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Finished projects financed by the EKOenergy’s Environmental Fund

  • Vihtijoki river restoration, Southern Finland €50 000
  • Kaakon Jokitalkkari – “The River Janitor of South Eastern Finland” €10 000
  • Murronjoki river restoration, Central Finland €73,000
  • Saaristomeri Area River Restorations, South-West Finland €15,000
  • Norina River Restoration, Latvia €4,000
  • Mustionjoki Project, Finland €150,000
  • Project: “Small streams make big rivers”, rivers restoration in Ostrobothnia,  Finland €100,000

Saving the freshwater pearl mussel of river Mustionjoki by rehabilitation in a hatchery

Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is a critically endangered species. The lifecycle of the mussel is peculiar. In the early stage of its lifecycle the larvae/juvenile freshwater pearl mussel lives in the gills of salmonid fish (salmon or trout), from where it drops to the river bottom to start the long, up to a 100-year life as an adult mussel.

In Finland, River Mustionjoki supports the southernmost population of freshwater pearl mussels that are presently on the edge of extinction. The number of individual mussels in this population have dropped dramatically between 2010-2016 (from 3038 to 1353). The remaining individuals are in weak condition and do not produce glokidium larvae. Thus, if no extra measures are carried out, the population will disappear while waiting for the results of habitat restoration measures in situ.

Freshwater pearl mussels in the hatchery. Photo: Jouni Taskinen

Freshwater pearl mussels in the hatchery. Photo: Jouni Taskinen

In Norway there is evidence of successful  removal of individual mussels from threatened populations to be reared at a hatchery where they are fed and cared for, until they start to produce glokidium larvae again, typically within 1-2 years. Salmonid fish are then exposed to the larvae and the developing juvenile mussels are then planted back to the home river to areas that have suitable conditions and best possible habitats.

Responsible organization: University of Jyväskylä, the laboratory of bio- and environmental sciences
Contact: professor Jouni Taskinen: jouni.k.taskinen(a)jyu.fi

Money granted from EKOenergy Environmental Fund: 9 000 euro, to organize the care for freshwater pearl mussels in Konnevesi Hatchery.

Vihtijoki river restoration project – Southern Finland

Virho project Finland

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 parties that are organized at Virho’s restoration site at Vihti river. There will also be a public event at Finnish Nature Day at the end of August.

Bless the Sieriniemi – Rowing event for the last remaining free-flowing part of River Kemijoki in 19.-23.7.2018

The aim of the event is to prevent the building of the Sierilä dam on the last unconstructed stretch of the river Kemijoki. The sandy river bank at the planned Sierilä power plant is home to the surviving populations of many endangered species. For example, a rare butterfly, the scholarly herd (Capricornia boisduvaliana), is only found in Finland in this specific area. For more information see https://www.sll.fi/mita-me-teemme/vedet/vapaakemijoki. The project costs include planning, organisation and the realisation of the rowing event Sieriniemen soutu in Rovaniemi 19.-23.7.2018. The organiser is the local nature conservation society in Rovaniemi in co-operation with the local association Oikarainen. A steering group and a media planning group have been established to support the project. Publicity and visibility in the media will play a key role in the project.

  • Responsible organisation: Nature Conservation Society of Rovaniemi, see FB page “Free River Kemijoki“, Finland
  • Contact: chairperson Sari Hänninen, sari.hanninen@rovaniemi.fi
  • Funding granted from EKOenergy Environmental Fund: 10,000 €

Let River Mustijoki be a living river for salmon

The final aim of the project is to re-establish a route for migratory fish such as seatrout, fromdownstream areas to upstream areas where larger spawning areas are now located behind a dam. A proper fishway plan and a 3-year study are needed to make progress towards this goal. The money will be used as seed money for fostering these plans, finding further funding and relevant participants.

Kaakon jokitalkkari – “The River Janitor of South Eastern Finland”

River-restoration_E_K_Kalatalouskeskus_Muurikkalan_myllykoskiKaakon jokitalkkari, “The River Janitor” project aims to restore the salmon populations in the waters of Southeast Finland. The project will continue every year and its plan and schedule will be defined in relation to the available budget and funding options.

With the help of EKOenergy’s Environmental Fund (€10 000 in 2015) , the Janitor is conducting restoration work in areas around hydropower dams which are preventing fish from migrating. The project will undertake research of the environmental condition of the rivers and use the results to improve the conditions of the river. The project is implemented by the South Karelia Fishery Centre in conjunction with the Kymenlaakso Fishery Centre.

Read more!

River Murronjoki restorations in Saarijärvi, Finland

The Environmental Fund has invested a total of €73,000 to Murronjoki river restorations in Saarijärvi, Central Finland. The aim of the project has been to bring trout and European crayfish back to the river. The money originates from sales of EKOenergy labelled hydropower by the energy company Vattenfall.

The River Murronjoki has been heavily affected by timber rafting, fish farming, forestry, agriculture and flood control. Leuhunkoski and Hietama hydropower plants are hindering trout migration in the river. The trout of Saarijärvi water route is therefore dependent on fish stocking.

The latest restoration works were conducted during 2015. The work included placing stones and gravel in the river to make the habitat suitable for trout and crayfish.

Publications: Murronjoen valuma-alueen puroinventointi 2012

Saaristomeri Area River Restorations by Valonia, South-West Finland.

Valonia is a Service Centre for Sustainable Development and Energy in South-West Finland. In this project, rivers in the Saaristomeri basin in Kuninkoja, Paimionjoki, Uskelanjoki and Kiskonjoki-Pernionjoki were restored. Valonia has especially focussed on improving the habitats of the extremely endangered trout. During the restoration work the trout’s spawning areas were built and fish migration obstacles were removed. EKOenergy funded the project in 2015 with €15 000.

Alongside the restoration work, Valonia has carried out surveys of fish populations using electrofishing, monitored the water quality and surveyed the state of the river systems. They have also surveyed the trout’s spawning areas to collect data and to monitor the effects of the restoration work. The preliminary results are promising. The data collected will be used in selecting future restoration areas.

In addition, Valonia organised a public event on how to enhance the state of waters in South Western Finland. An important part of the project has been the involvement of volunteers. During the project, Valonia has organised a wide network of people interested in river restoration.

Norina River Restoration, Latvia

Dam_removal_norina

Dam removal, Norina river

The River Norina in Northern Latvia is approximately 11 kilometres long, and is a left bank tributary of the River Salaca. The river is located in Salaca Valley Nature Park. The Norina River Restoration project was funded by the Environmental Fund with €4 000 in 2015.

The restoration of the salmonid migration path in River Norina is particularly important because the Salaca river basin is the fourth most productive salmonid river in the Baltic Sea. It is predicted that River Norina will mostly be used as a spawning ground by sea trout.

The restoration work took place in the area from the former mill to the Norina’s confluence with the River Salaca. The restoration work ended on October 15th 2015 with a cleaning activity.
Working on the project were representatives of the Latvian Fund for Nature that coordinated the restoration works, the Nature Protection Board and other nature friends. During the clean-up the former mill dam was demolished, allowing salmonids to migrate up the river to their spawning grounds. This was a historic moment as the fish had not been able to go upstream due to the dam for around 100 years.

Click here for pictures of the restoration activities.

Click here and here for two Youtube videos about the restoration activities, in Latvian (with English subtitles. Originally shown at the Latvian television.

Mustionjoki Project

The River Mustionjoki is a part of the Karjaanjoki basin and it is situated in Uusimaa County, Southern Finland. It flows from Lake Lohjanjärvi to the Pohjanpitäjälahti bay. The length of the river is 25 kilometres. There are four hydroelectric power stations on the river (in Åminnefors, Billnäs, Peltokoski and Mustio’s iron mill), which are preventing the upward migrating fishes from returning to the river. An endangered freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) population of the river needs migrating salmonoids to bring their larvae back upstream.

In addition, some other rare and endangered species are breeding in the area, such as the thick shelled river mussel (Unio crassus), a rare alga (Hildenbrandia rivularis) and the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). The River Mustionjoki is important for nature protection also because there are still several near-natural creeks in the area. The river is part of EU’s Natura 2000 network.

€150,000 of EKOenergy funding has been used to conduct a multi-criteria assessment of the River Mustionjoki, comparing different measures to improve the situation of the freshwater pearl mussel and the salmon populations. The outcomes of the assessment will help decide which steps to take next, including the construction of fish passage.