We financed another river restoration project in Germany

Funding for river restoration

Consumers of EKOenergy-labelled hydropower don’t only help us finance renewable energy projects, but also contribute to the improvement of river biodiversity. This happens through our Environmental Fund.

The Schnegaer Mühlenbach is a small stream in eastern Lower Saxony, Germany, and is a habitat to rare species such as brook mussels, otters, brook lamprey, brook trout and stream dragonflies. Throughout the decades the naturally fast-flowing stream with meandering, gravel sections was straightened and deepened. This threatens the stream’s diversity. EKOenergy provided a financing of 21,984.94 € for the revitalisation and restoration of the stream. This funding was made possible by German consumers of EKOenergy-labelled hydropower and the project was implemented by Ökologische Station Landgraben-Dumme-Niederung, a local division of Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND), Germany’s largest environmental and nature conservation association.

Cooperation to bring back ecological diversity

In the 1970s, the entire gravel in the stream section near the Brüchauer Mill was removed, resulting in a slow and sluggish stream flow.

During the project, 516 tons of gravel as well as 20 tons of boulders were used in order to reconnect an old meander to the 700 m long main stream. Different amounts of gravel with a grain size of 8 to 45 mm were placed at 17 selected stream sections by using chain dredgers. The gravel was transported to a central collection point by a truck, from which local farmers then transported it to the selected stream banks by using tractors and dump trucks.

By installing gravel banks, the stream bed was raised by approx. 40 to 50 cm to increase the flow velocity. The riverbed was narrowed by placing large stones and deadwood, which supports this process. These measures have specifically created a mix of fast flow and calmer zones to provide good spawning conditions for fish. Additionally, in the long-term, these measures should lead to an improvement in water quality and to a rise in the groundwater level.

The local nature conservation authorities required a brook mussels-monitoring to ensure that no potential mussel locations were covered by gravel during the restoration process. Unfortunately, only 3 living brook mussels were found in a different part of the stream below the Brüchauer Mill.

Recently, a survey regarding the fish- and brook lamprey population showed a positive outcome. The good results have been recognised not only by the authorities involved, but also by the owner of the Brüchauer Mill, the tenants and hunters of the adjacent grassland areas and the fishing association.

Published on 5 December 2021