On July 25th, Associação Natureza de Portugal (ANP) in association with WWF (ANP|WWF), in partnership with the Municipality of Alcoutim, will begin the demolition of the Galaxes Weir on the Odeleite River. ANP|WWF will be the first civil entity in Portugal to remove an obsolete river barrier and this will be the third programme-supported demolition this summer.
Removing this weir will improve habitat conditions for several endangered fish species, such as the saramugo – a species of endangered non-migratory fish in Portuguese fresh waters, endemic to the Guadiana river basin – and eel. The removal will reconnect 7.7 km of the river which, in turn, will boost the conservation of fish populations and several species of riverside birds and iconic mammals, such as the otter and the endemic and threatened Iberian lynx.
This removal will also have socio-economic advantages, including the promotion of rural tourism activities, as well as benefits for fishermen, as the restoration of river continuity allows healthier ecological conditions for fish populations with high economic value.
“It didn’t make any sense to maintain a river barrier in our municipality that never served its purpose nor brought benefits to the population. We took care to make the local population aware of this project so that they could perceive the benefits resulting from the removal of this dam for the region”, says Paulo Paulino, vice-president of the Alcoutim City Council.
*UPDATE: Since the publication of this news, the barrier removal has been postponed until later this year.