Projects in 2016

Vihtijoki river restoration project – Southern Finland

Virho project Finland

Virho’s work party at Vihtijoki river

EKOenergy funds Virho‘s Vihtijoki river restoration project with a €50,000 donation in 2016. The project aims at restoring the Vihtijoki river so that salmon fish can live and spawn in the river again. A further aim is to make the Vihtijoki river a model for future Finnish restoration projects.

In the past, the Vihtijoki river was strongly gutted for log driving, and its side-streams were blocked. There have been several hydropower plants in the river over the years, but the last of the power plants has recently been closed to aid the recovery of the trout population. There is still a need for 2 or 3 fish passages in the river.

“Virho has been making restorations in Vihti river for around ten years. However, support from EKOenergy brings the rehabilitation work to a new level. In practice, it means that we can seriously start to restore the main stream of the river,”says Markus Penttinen from Virho.

In 2016, the program is opening the blocked side-streams, carrying stones into the river to provide shelter for juvenile fish, and creating new spawning grounds with gravel. Work is completed to a great extent by volunteers: “We have already been dragging with by hands and sledges over 80 tonnes of rocks and gravel to restoration sites,” says Penttinen. This hard work will be rewarded in the autumn when salmons will found the restored sites for spawning.

Renovations will benefit the trout, but also other migratory fish and crabs. In the future the highly endangered freshwater pearl mussel can potentially be returned to the river. Biodiversity increases when side-streams are opened, and the riverbed will return to its natural state. In addition, close cooperation with landowners will contribute to raised awareness on how to choose future forestry and agricultural practices that will be sound for the river ecosystem.

The public can take part in work party that is organized at Virho’s restoration site at Vihti river 9 July 2016. At Finnish Nature Day 27 July 2016 there will be a demonstration of rapid restorations at Vihtijoki river. For more information please contact Markus Pentinen: markus.penttinen10(a)gmail.com.

River restoration target chosen by public vote: For the first time, electricity users chose the Environmental Fund’s river restoration project for 2016. The vote was carried out in cooperation with EKOenergy and Fortum, and nearly 4,000 people casted their vote. A local Finnish association “Virho” was the winner, receiving 45% of the total vote. Virho are a voluntary organisation who work on river restorations. Their projects aim to restore the Vihtijoki-river, so once more it will be suitable for salmon fish.

Kaakon jokitalkkari – The River Janitor of South Eastern Finland

River-restoration_E_K_Kalatalouskeskus_Muurikkalan_myllykoskiIn 2015 EKOenergy supported the Kaakon Jokitalkkari project with €10,000, and the restoration activities will continue in 2016. This project aims at the preservation and revitalization of salmon stocks in south-eastern Finland. The project is implemented by the South Karelia Fishery Centre in conjunction with the Kymenlaakso Fishery Centre.

To date, Kaakon Jokitalkkari has been working on restoring the Virojoki stream. Owners of these water areas have taken to the project very positively and the rehabilitation efforts will be continued this summer.

This year, the Centre for Economic Development will build a fish passage to a power plant (Muurikkala) in Urpalanjoki river, and the River Janitor will do restoration work in the Urpalanjoki rapids in autumn 2016. At all restoration sites, there will be fishing tests to monitor the progress of the restoration work in the autumn.