ITALY - Liri River
This barrier removal is managed by REWILDING EUROPE as part of the Dam Removal Europe coalition on the Big Jump 2021 Simultaneous Crowdfunding Dam Removal action
The Liri river, which is mentioned by Dante, is particularly famous for being managed by the Ancient Romans. Their architects planned and built a canal under the mountains that surrounded Lake Fucino in order to empty it and direct its waters toward the lower altitudes of the Liri catchment area.
Since then, the exploitation of the Liri river has continued for other purposes. For example, it has been used to produce energy, beginning with the Torlonia House and its first electrical powerplant. Now the natural habitats of the upper Liri are scattered with power plants and weirs that are making fish life harder, especially for the rarer species, such the barbel (Barbus fucini) and the Etruscan chub (Squalius lucumonis - IUCN Red List Categoy Endangered), or protected ones, such as the South European roach (Rutilus rubilio) and the Italian riffle dace (Telestes muticellus).
Dismantling some specific weirs will open about 20 km of the river for freshwater wildlife. This will ensure more extensive natural habitats for fish, increasing their chances of survival and, as consequence, supporting vital populations of their predators, such as the black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), which is endangered in Italy. However, the otter could recolonize the Liri river over the next few years.