Diverse ecosystems are threatened by the over 1 million barriers that cross Europe’s rivers, warns new research. The barriers take the shape of dams, fords and bridges.
More than 1.2 million barriers criss-cross Europe’s rivers, writes AFP in an article. However, databases on these waterways are limited, with most only listing barriers of a certain height.
Scientists have now collated more than 120 databases on European rivers and found 629,955 unique barrier records. They additionally walked along 2,700 kilometres of rivers, recording on average 2.5 times more barriers in field than in the existing inventories.
Extrapolating that discrepancy to continent-wide figures, the team estimated the true number of barriers across European rivers to be more than 1.2 million, writes AFP.
The authors said that while larger barriers such as hydroelectric dams often cause concern, smaller barriers such as weirs and sluices present a more subtle but still harmful threat to river ecosystems.
They added that this was an opportunity to rectify river flow, since many of the barriers are small, obsolete and easily removable.
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