photo Loira à Serre de la Fare (43)photo barrage Villerestphoto loire moyennephoto La Loire en aval de Toursphoto Loire moyenne
by ERN
European Rivers Network

SOS Loire Vivante - ERN France
protecting Loire, Water and Nature = protecting Man
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Description of SOS Loire vivante - ERN France
About us

Mission, Statuts (french) , Budget

History Loire Vivante (f)


 SOS Loire Vivante Infos (f)
loiremails (f)
news of the basin
news archive

news from other rivers


overview in english

more in french only :
local and regional :
  Loire Allier amont (amont de Nevers)
 • Loire moyenne (Allier - confl. Vienne)
 • Loire angévine,atlantique + Estuaire

Hot projects

Démantèlement de barrages : Poutès (f)
Estuaire : Non à Donges- Est (f)


 • Ressources

more and links

campaigne against the Rhone-Barcelona water transfer and the Spanish HYDRO PLAN
Campagne Canal Rhin Rhône (terminé)
vers nos liens recommandés


Summary :

President : Roberto A. Epple   
Vice Prés.: André Pelissier
"Présidents d'honneur" : Christine Jean, Jean-François Arnould
Board (Conseil d'administration) : liste available

National Agreement (in french)

SOS Loire Vivante - ERN France
8, rue Crozatier
43000 Le Puy en Velay

VOICE : +33 (0) 4 71 05 57 88  Fax: : +33 (0) 4 71 02 60 99 
e mail: sosloirevivante at 
President: Roberto Epple, Solignac sur Loire (43) +33 4 71 05 57 88
Vice Président: André Pelissier, Brives Charensac (43)

- please visite our more complete french pages -

Short Description

SOS Loire Vivante is an NGO (labelized by the French Ministery for Environment) which was created in the late 80s to oppose the Serre de la Fare dam project, and to protect the Upper Loire Valley. (130 km South-West of Lyon / France). SOS LOIRE VIVANTE opposed also the Le Veurdre (Allier, Loire Tributary) and Chambonchard Dam (Cher, Loire Tributary) and the extension of the existing Naussac Dam opn the Upper Allier River.

After a first cancellation in July 1991, the Serre de la Fare project was definitively cancelled on January 94. The Le Veurdre and the Chambonchard Damproject was postboned. This decision was a part of the « Plan Loire Grandeur Nature », a program over 10 years launched by the French government, which derived directly from the principles of river management forwarded by SOS Loire Vivante / Loire Vivante Network and which aimed at reconciling population safety, environment protection and economic development, in a perspective of sustainable development.
The project also includes the dismantling of two older dams in the Loire basin and a project to restore the salmon.During 1995 - 2001  The Le Veudre Dam has again been postboned (without limite) and the Chambonchard Damproject was canceld and the two dams St Etienne de Vigan (Upper Allier) and Maison rouge (Cher) has been dismanteld.

- Go to : current projects and campaigns
- Activity reports1989 - 2002 (ask for an printed version)
2003    2004    2005   2006   2007/2008   2008/2009 (in french only)

Budget : 350 000 Euros / year (2007, the Budgets of the Network Members or NOT included)  SOS Loire Vivante has a staff of 7 - 10 employees, and a big number of volunteers. 
President : Roberto A. Epple +33 4 71 05 57 88
"Présidents d'honneur": Christin Jean, Jean François Arnould,
The list of board members, budget and other details are available when required.

The 'statuts" are available pdf files (just order it)
Members: 3 000 privat persons and up to 220 organizations are members.

SOS Loire Vivante is the Coordinator of the wider Loire Vivante Network and Co Founder of ERN (European Rivers Network). and host the french Head office of ERN (ERN France)

Partners : ERN (Europ. Rivers Network), IRN (Int. Rivers Network), SIE Secretariat international de l'Eau, EEB, WWF, DUH Deutsche Umwelthilfe, EURONATUR, SEE Solidarité Eau Europe and others
Current privat Project-Sponsors: Patagonia, Nature et Découvert and UNILEVER-France

Editor of
- SOS LOIRE VIVANTE INFOS (2-4 editions /year). It is a Revue in french plus "Minibulletins and the letter for members)
- loire mail (News from the Loire River Basin)
- Loire River Basin Website with News and Backgroundinformations

1. The «Loire Vivante» campaign - changing the Loire river management.

In the 1980s, France decided to tame the Loire, the "last wild river" in Western Europe : four dams and dykes were planned on the Loire basin, mostly for water storage - for intensive agriculture and dilution of nuclear pollution purposes - and for flood control, which would have worsened urbanization in the floodplains.

The most important dam, called Serre de la Fare, located on the upper Loire Valley, would have drowned 23 km of pristine gorges, a wonderful asset for local sustainable developement. The fight against it became the symbol for the whole campaign for a «living Loire».

The main strength of the SOS Loire Vivante network, supported by WWF and the largest French NGOs, was to fight against the dam program as a whole. The campaign, through large demonstrations, scientific research and conferences, lawsuits and occupation of the Serre de la Fare dam site, led to the broadest media coverage of all environmental topics in France and to internationalization of the issue.

The campaign also forwarded alternatives to damming, thus proposing a novel approach to river management, notably in the field of flood-control. It also focused on river restoration and biodiversity protection. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), threatened to extinction on the Loire basin, was chosen as a symbol for this campaign, with the organization of an international conference.

In 1991, the lawsuit against the Serre de la Fare State-approval was won by the environmentalists ; later in the year, the left-wing government announced Serre de la Fare was abandoned. In 1992, the Loire Vivante network was awarded the Goldman Prize (the Nobel Prize for environment protectors). Finally, on January 4th, 1994, the new right-wing governement confirmed that the damming program was abandoned and launched a new Loire management program, «Plan Loire Grandeur Nature», which went even further along the Loire Vivante views.

- Chronology 1971 - today
- more informations on the Loire Vivante Network
- photos, storys, impression on the fight to save the Loire River (personel webpages of à member)

2. Alternative measures to the dam program now under implementation.

The "Plan Loire Grandeur Nature" launched in 1994 program - derived directly from the principles of river management forwarded by Loire Vivante. The plan aims at reconciling population safety, environment protection and economic development, in a perspective of sustainable development. Out of the four dams, one was definitely abandoned, one was postponed until 1998 - time for further studies to be completed - one was reduced and one was maintained. An ambitious plan to prevent the extinction of the Loire and Allier salmon was launched. A large European-funded program, LIFE-Loire Nature ), meant to restore river ecosystems, protect biodiversity and enhance fluvial dynamic, was also reinforced.

Flood-protection :
  • the «Plan Loire Grandeur Nature» flood-protection measures on the upper basin consists in improving flood-alert, launching local protection works and cleaning up the riverbanks in an ecological manner (selective tree cutting, etc.). All these measures - which should become an example for other such operations along the river - are under way :
  • In the city of Brives-Charensac, on the upper Loire river, alternatives to the Serre de la Fare dam will be  completed 2000, which insure population safety in case of a major flood. The leading principle of this novel project is to give the river room to flow instead of dyking it up. The river bed has been deepened and broadened in some places and two bridges are being modified to let the flow go through, while the buildings of three firms are being removed from the river bed. Works also include a landscaping program which underlying philosophy is to lead people back to the river instead of turning their back to it.
  • A new radar on the Upper Loire basin has been set up ; the information-gathering system on rainfall and risks of floods has been computerized and improved, making it possible to foresee a flood 5 hours before it happens, instead of 2 hours. On the whole upper basin, teams are being set up, which mission is to clean up ecologically the river banks.

    Logo Sauvons le saumon

    Salmon restoration :
  • The plan to restore the Salmon (Salmo salar) species includes the destruction of two dams to help fish go back to their best spawning grounds. (St.Etienne de Vigan on the Allier River and The Maisons rouges dam on the Vienne River). A fish ladder has been built on the Vichy dam (Allier), and works for the largest salmon hatchery in France are beginning on the upper Allier.

    Conservation :
  • the LIFE-Loire Nature program, (52 Million FF ended on December 1998) includes 7 measures on the whole Loire basin. The Upper Allier measure, the largest of all projects, is managed by SOS Loire Vivante together with the NGO "Nature Haute Loire" (6,1 Million FF). The first goal of the LIFE-Loire program is to maintain the riverís natural dynamic in order to preserve the biological diversity of the river as well as its other ecological functions (eg. natural flood control, freshwater production). The project also aims at setting up, in the comprised sensitive areas, a real ecodevelopment (maintenance of economic activities compatible with ecosystem preservation) and to demonstrate its feasability on a larger scale.
  • On the Upper Loire Valley, SOS Loire Vivante has initiated a sustainable development project : in 1992, it bought an old farm, Bonnefond, in the most scenic part of the gorges threatened by the Serre de la Fare project ; since, works have been led to turn the ruins, with the help of a recreational anglersí organization, into a lodge which will be an information and animation center for the Upper Loire Valley. The lodge has opened for the first time in the summer 1996. Furthermore, together with a State agency and local authorities, a program has been led by SOS Loire Vivante to inventory the Upper Loire Valley flora and fauna : the studies are now finished and should lead to protection and sustainable development measures, if funds are sufficient.

    see also our Chronology 1971 - today
3. Current projects and Campaigns

The victory over the Dam Projects does not imply the end of the work for SOS Loire Vivante.
Our actual Projects and Campaigns:

- Loire River Basin :- Monitoring the implementation of the Plan Loire Grandeur Nature
- Organisation of the "Assises des associations pour une Loire vivante" (f)
- organising the campaign 'DialEAUgues on the riverbanks) starting end 2006
- flood control without any new dams,
- make sure that the Upper Loire Valley is definitively protected and
- lobbying for new programs for conservation and sustainable development of the Upper Loire Valley
(Biosphere UNESCO)
- campaining against the extension of the Loire Harbor extension near Nantes
- campaining for the destruction (decommissioning) of the Poutès Dam (Upper Allier)
- running the Loire Riverbasin Website
- organising the "Voyage au coeur de la Loire vivante 2006"
- organising the "20 years Loire Vivante" (f)

international Level :
- establish the french Headquarter of ERN (European Rivers Network) covering Western Europe
- campaigning against the Water Transfer Rhone-Barcelone and the Spanish National Hydrologic Plan
- running a sensibilisation - campaign to save the atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and dam decommissioning
- running education - programms for youngsters (as Rivers of pictures and Flows of words) on River Basin Level
- organizing Youth River & Water Parliaments ( in cooperation with SEE, Solidarité Eau Europe)
- running the RineNet Programm (EU Interreg program) as partner organisation troug ERN France
- running the EU Aquanet Project (Co Founder) trough ERN France

local level :

- running our information Center (on the Loire River Bank)
"Mas de Bonnefont "
- participe in Natura 2000 programmm Gorges de la Loire
- running the Website in favor of a sustainable development in cooperation   with the local communities

4. Looking for support
SOS Loire Vivante is a large environment-protection NGO and mouvement by French standards.
Financial Help com  memberships, WWF  France and the french branche of the US based firm PATAGONIA and since 1998 the UNILEVER France  Groupe. (Project Financing only)
and divers institutional subventions ( european, national, regional)

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