The preparatory study for the removal of river barriers on the Vascão River and Ribeira de Odeleite has already begun to be carried out by ANP|WWF (Associação Natureza Portugal|World Wide Fund For Nature).
This and two other studies concerning the removal of barriers, on the Sabor and Sousa rivers, are being developed with the support and funding of the program European Open Rivers, an organization that allocates funds dedicated to removing barriers to restoring the fluvial continuity of rivers.
In the case of Vascão, which, in Sotavento, marks the border between the Algarve and Alentejo, the project «comes following the removal of the Galaxes weir and intends to significantly increase operations in this area, removing two more barriers on the same stream – Ribeira de Odeleite – and 12 barriers on the Vascão River».
The two Algarve watercourses «are home to the only surviving populations in Portugal of one of the most endangered non-migratory freshwater fish species, the saramugo», which is why the removal of the barriers had already been prioritized «by a ministerial report».
“These removals have the potential to restore 93 kilometers of free-flowing river and significantly improve habitat not only for the saramugo, but also for the European eel and other native species at risk of conservation, including mammals such as the otter and lynx. Iberian", describes the ANP|WWF.
The funding that will come from the European Open Rivers Program «it will allow field visits to identify and map fluvial barriers on the three rivers, as well as to study the feasibility of their removal».
It will also make it possible to “develop the communication work with the barrier owners, local communities and respective municipalities; map and study other barriers that may exist in the same river; obtain the necessary authorizations for removal; and prepare plans for removing and restoring the river».