The Open Rivers Program was officially launched on October 8, 2021, thanks to an investment of 42.5 million euros in six years by Arcadia, a charity fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The motivation of this Programme lies in the fact that European rivers are the most fragmented in the world, which has caused the loss of many species and habitats. One of the main causes of this fragmentation are artificial barriers to river flow, as the dams. Their removal can improve water quality, restore diversity and abundance of life in rivers and their surrounding habitats, and increase habitat connectivity and resilience.
The programme aims to support organisations and communities working to restore rivers by funding projects to remove dams that have the greatest possible impact on the restoration of river ecosystems. The Open Rivers Programme will offer grants to support:
- The removal of small dams (up to 2 metres in height) in rivers
- The preparatory work that will result in a dam removal
- The dam removal movement so that dam removal becomes more widely accepted and implemented in order to restore more rivers across Europe
The programme is managed by Stichting European Open Rivers Programme, a charitable foundation, registered in the Netherlands.