Free Flow conference in Groningen, a useful opportunity for the Central Apennines team to compare notes

April 30, 2024

From 15 to 17 April, the international “Free Flow” conference on river protection and restoration in Europe was held in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Fiume Orfento, nel Parco Nazionale della Maiella.
Orfento River, in the Maiella National Park.
Bruno D'Amicis

The World Fish Migration Foundation and the Institute of Fisheries Management organised an important exchange between professionals, enthusiasts and decision-makers from all over Europe in the field of river ecology, the restoration of aquatic ecosystems and the ever-growing dam removal movement.

Participants from all over the world exchanged experiences, ambitions and approaches in a lively and purposeful atmosphere to which Rewilding Apennines also contributed with two presentations. It is precisely in these contexts of international comparison that significant steps can be taken towards the conservation of river ecosystems on a global level.


Free Flow conference in Groningen, the Netherlands.
Ileana Schipani

Rewilding Apennines’ Scientific Coordinator, Filippo Castellucci and the team consultants Ileana Schipani, Giandomenico Mercuri, Amilcare D’Orsi, Marco Seminara, Alessandro Tersigni e Bernardo Bartolomucci, shared with the participants two initiatives, both pioneering for central Italy, that have been carrying out with the support of Open Rivers Programme and Rewilding Europe.

In the session dedicated to the removal of river barriers, “Giov & Go – Free flow Giovenco. Defragmentation interventions on the Giovenco River: connecting stakeholders to reconnect the river” was presented. While in the poster session the pilot study for the removal of a weir on the upper stream of Liri River was displayed. On this, a preliminary investigation suggests that significant improvements in the composition and abundance of fish and invertebrate communities can be expected from the removal of a small barrier.


“It was a very rich and training experience,” said Filippo Castellucci of the Rewilding Apennines team. “Being able to learn about so many international initiatives focused on river ecology and the restoration of aquatic ecosystems was particularly exciting for me, giving me even more motivation for what we are doing on this topic in the Central Apennines. In addition, the conference was an excellent opportunity to forge links with our professional consultants and increase the team’s operationality.”

With pride, Rewilding Apennines is actively participating in the dam removal movement with innovative initiatives for central Italy. The pilot initiatives are a very important step, but it is only the first of many more that will have to be taken together with many stakeholders to finally return to seeing free-flowing rivers in the Central Apennines.

The Central Apennines team for river restoration at the Free Flow conference.
Amilcare D'Orsi