Flowing waters are among the most dynamic ecosystems. Rivers shape the landscape, balance the households of surface and groundwater, provide habitats for flora and fauna and have always been water and food sources, transport routes and much more for humans. Riversides, sand and gravel banks, floodplains with their alluvial forests, reed beds, shallow water zones and tributaries are just as much part of flowing waters as the river body, wide deltas or tidal estuaries. Human intervention has led to increasingly serious impairments of the watercourse system and thus of water cycles: pollution from agriculture, embankments, deepening and dam construction, eutrophication, structural impoverishment, reduction of carbon dioxide storage capacity and groundwater recharge.
The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) from the year 2000 also refers to the necessity of "going back to nature" for water bodies. In this directive, a "good ecological status" of all surface water bodies was defined as binding until 2015, which was not achieved and was therefore postponed in two further steps to 2027. It is urgently time to do justice to the importance of rivers and to protect them worldwide!
In order to preserve the large Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar, which is still completely unspoilt, we are elaborating a concept for a cluster of Ramsar sites together with Flora Fauna International. The aim is also to designate them as biosphere reserves in order to better involve the local population in nature conservation.
We also work closely with the Austrian NGO Riverwatch to advocate for large rivers that still flow freely or are close to their natural state: A few years ago we were intensively involved (unfortunately in vain!) in the preservation of the Tigris in the Stop-Ilisu campaign, and since 2014 in the campaign "Save the Blue Heart of Europe" in the Balkans for the last wild rivers in Europe. In Sicily, together with our partner Giacche Verdi Bronte and volunteers, we have developed the environmental education project "Fiumi Puliti" (Clean Rivers). Regular donations to the Kamchatka Fishing Institute in Russia, enable the control of streams and rivers in the Bystrinsky Nature Park that are affected by mining effluents. Here in Germany we realize and support stream renaturations in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and near Bremen.