A step forward for the removal of obsolete barriers in Portugal

July 31, 2023

Signature of protocol between the Portuguese National Authority, Rewilding Portugal and Côa Park Foundation. 

This morning, the Portuguese Environment Agency, Rewilding Portugal and the Côa Park Foundation signed a collaboration protocol to develop a common strategy to analyze the technical, environmental, ecological and social feasibility of removing the Foz Côa cofferdams.

The construction of the Foz Côa Dam was suspended in 1996, thanks to the discovery of unique rock art panels, which led to the creation of the Côa Valley Archaeological Park and its declaration as UNESCO Heritage Site in 1998.

Twenty-seven years later, the two cofferdams that were provisionally built continue to obstruct the free flow of the Côa River, becoming obsolete barriers with important negative impacts at various levels, including the conservation and preservation of the Paleolithic engravings.

The floods caused by the existence of these cofferdams affect 57 of these rocks and this seasonal submersion (65 floods in 20 years) also causes important economic losses, by damaging equipment and closing visitation.

In addition to the engravings, the Foz Côa cofferdams are negatively affecting the water quality of the Côa and tributaries, preventing the transport of sediments and nutrients and blocking fish movement.

Several studies will analyse the technical, environmental and social feasibility of removing cofferdams. This work is funded by the programme and is carried out in partnership with the Côa Park Foundation, the University of Trás-Os-Montes e Alto Douro with the technical support of HAEDES Portugal.

This is a fundamental step to restore free flow in at least 54 km of the Côa River and safeguard the archaeological heritage. Learn more about the project.

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