Pressreleases / Communiqués / Pressemitteilungen 
(all in original language, en langue originale, in Originalsprache):

  • 08.04.99 : press note on Human Rights March of NBA
  • 26.03.99 : Letters Needed To Remove Battle Creek Dams Endangered Salmon And Steelhead At Stake
  • 02.04.99 : India: Narmada Update
  • 01.04.99 :  News from the WCD (World Commission on Dams) Meeting in Prague
  • 31.03.99 : Three Gorges project: open letter to Jiang Zemin
  • 29.03.99 : China: "Questioning Three Gorges Dam" 
  • 25.03.99 : Thailand : Pak Mun Villagers Occupy Dam, Demand Compensation from World Bank
  • 01.03.99 : You can help saving the Danube, please help!
  • 21.02.99   Rhein Hochwasser: Ohne hessische Polder bleibt Koeln bedroht. WWF raet: Flutschaeden bei Gemeinden stromaufwaerts einfordern
  • 17.02.99 : WWF: Mit dem Wasser kehrt Artenvielfalt ins Donaudelta zurück
  • 04.02.99 : Tag der Feuchtgebiete: WWF-Forderungen zum Schutz der Flussauen
  • 22.01.99 : Spain : News Letter action against the building of Itoiz dam

SSNC/BD press release, Stockholm/Zurich, 12 April 1999:
12.04.99 : Swedish and Swiss NGOs protest against new Three Gorges contract for ABB

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and the Berne Declaration (BD), two NGOs in Sweden and Switzerland, have issued protests
against ABB's new contract for the Three Gorges project. According to an BB press release of April 12, the company has received another contract of
$ 340 million to supply two converter stations for a high-voltage power link from the Three Gorges project to the Shanghai area. SSNC and the BD
are committed to preventing the funding of the project by the Swedish and Swiss export risk guarantees.

ABB has won a contract worth $ 340 million to supply two converter stations for a 3,000 megawatt high-voltage direct current power link to transmit
electricity from the Three Gorges project to the Shanghai area. In August 1997, ABB had already won an order of $ 250 million to supply eight
generators to the same project. The financing of the latest contract will be organized by a banking consortium including ANZ, Associete Generale, and
Indo-Suez. The Swedish export risk guarantee EKN today confirmed to have approved an official guarantee for the contract.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and the Berne Declaration today protested against ABB's increased involvement in the Three Gorges project.
"At a time when the social, environmental and security problems of the megaproject become ever more evident and when opposition is mounting even
within China, ABB's support for the Three Gorges project is in sharp contrast to the company's stated commitment to sustainable development",
says Peter Bosshard, spokesperson for the Berne Declaration.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and the Berne Declaration are opposing the support of the latest Three Gorges contract by the Swedish or
by any other export risk gurantees. "We appeal to the Swedish government not to lend further support to the Three Gorges project, which contradicts
the principles of Swedish environmental and human rights policies", says SSNC chairman Göran Enander.

For further information:

. SSNC: Göran Eklof, ph +468 702 65 82,, or Göran Ek, ph
+468 702 65 09,
. BD: Peter Bosshard, ph + 411 271 64 25,

ABB's press release is available at An open letter to China's President Jiang Zemin summarizing the problems of the Three Gorges dam is
available on the BD's website,

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation was founded in 1909. With its 170,000 members, it is the largest and oldest environmental organization in
Sweden. The Berne Declaration is a Swiss public-interest group with 16,000 members. Through research, popular education and advocacy work, it has
promoted more equitable and sustainable North-South relations since 1968. Both SSNC and the BD have opposed ABB's involvement in destructive large
dam projects such as Three Gorges or Bakun for many years.

Press Note/08.04.99 :

Social Justice Deptt. to Send  Team to Reassess Status Of Rehabilitation

Thousands of  tribals and peasants from the Narmada valley  have concluded the Manav Adhikar Yatra ( Human Rights March) with a resolve to intensify
their struggle against the unjust displacement and for  the  right to life,on Thursday ( April 8). This was preceded by the decision by the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment to send a high ranking team ofthe officials to reassess the status of rehabilitation and the land availability for the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP).

ì This has vindicated our stand  that the governments of Center and states have lied in the Supreme Court regarding the status of rehabilitation and displacement in the SSPî said Jagannath Kaka Patidar, the senior activist in the Narmada Bachao Andolan while addressing the concluding session of the two days dharna in Delhi. The people in the valley will closely monitor  the proceedings of the committee and would see that  the government would present the ground realities in the apex  court.

A delegation of the from the  march met the Minister , Ms. Menaka Gandhi on 8th April. The people expressed their displeasure over previous dayís incident of police highhandedness and the attitude of the Minister. They challenged the claims by the governments about the complete rehabilitation of  all the oustees coming under  the submergence at 90 meters. After the discussions, the Minister  appointed two joint secretaries  of the department and one from the Rural Development Ministry for reassessing the claims of rehabilitation and the land availability. The officials were told to start their mission within two days and would directly report to theMinister.

It was thus indirect confession on the part of the government  that it has submitted false affidavits in the Court and the  and non-consideration of the  data about the ground realities provided by the Andolan.

The Human Rightís March was started in Badwani, in M.P. and was welcomed in number of towns and villages including Shahada, Dhule, Malegaon, Niphad,
Nashik and Thane en route Mumbai. They were welcomed by hundreds of organisation and movements of tribals, Dalits, fishworkers, urban poor, backwards, minorities, workers, trade unions, environmental and human rights organisations. The organisations of those affected by the dams and other development projects too supported the Andolanís issues and programmes. The struggle against the displacement has emerged as a political consensus among the various organisations and sections of population. This, according to them, was important in the days of the globalisation, liberalization and the onslaught of the
national-international capital on the right to life and resources of the people.

The people arrived in Delhi on April 7th and held dharna in the premises of the Social  Justice Ministry ( Shastri Bhavan) in the early hours. The people invited the Minister to come down to meet the people who traversed hundreds of kilometers to come to Delhi. Despite the rude response by the Minister , the Andolan did prepared a memorandum and was awaiting a dialogue in the closed meeting. Baba Amte, the veteran social worker, Kishan Patnaik, senior Socialist thinker and activist, number of organisations in Delhi  were  present  at the meeting. The police, however, changed their decision and arrested the women and men in very highhanded manner. Number of protesters, including Medha Patkar, wre dragged and received minor injuries. Swami Agnivesh was also picked up. They were later
released. Baba Amte too was not spared. He was forcibly packed up in the waiting police ambulance and was told that he was under arrest. Later, in one of the Delhi hospitals, he was brought and abandoned by the police. The doctors too neglected him. Baba had a small request : the police must return him back from where they brought him. But police disregarded his request. Baba and Mrs. Amte did not take food as a mark of protest against this treatment. On Thursday, after the government expressed his regrets, he withdrew the fast.

Meanwhile,  number of prominent social and political activists and organisations protested against the grave injustice against the peopleís movements and demanded  a space for people to put forward their cause. Senior Socialist leader and president of Samjwadi Jan Parishad, Kishan Patnaik, Surendra Mohan, senior ideologue of Janata Dal, Ram Dheeraj of Azadi Bachao Andolan, Swami  Agnivesh, Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Thomas Kocherry of the World Fishworkers Forum and National Convenor of National Alliance of Peopleís Movements condemned the behavior of the police.

( Sanjay Sangvai)


26.03.99 : Letters Needed To Remove Battle Creek Dams
Endangered Salmon And Steelhead At Stake

State and federal agencies, and the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) have reached a tentative $50 million agreement to restore endangered salmon
and steelhead on Battle Creek.  A key tributary to the Sacramento River, Battle Creek is considered by biologists to be the best opportunity to help
restore four runs of endangered salmon and steelhead in the entire Central Valley, including the nearly extinct Sacramento River winter run chinook

PG&E operates an extensive system of diversion dams, canals, and powerhouses in the Battle Creek watershed, which originates on the slopes
of Mt. Lassen, and flows westward to the Sacramento River.  The creek is fed by numerous cold springs erupting from the lava rock along the way.
Many of the utility's hydro dams on Battle Creek block salmon and steelhead migration.  In addition, the project's unscreened diversions capture fish
and significantly reduce the creek's natural flows.

The agreement between state and federal agencies working under the umbrella of the CALFED Bay Delta Program and PG&E will result in the removal of some
its dams, construction of fish screens and ladders on others, and significantly increase instream flows for salmon and steelhead.  Overall,
the agreement is intended to restore up to 42 miles of critical fish habitat.  The agreement will cost the public $27.2 million.  PG&E estimates
that it will contribute $20.6 million in lost power revenues associated with increased instream flows.  But conservation groups estimate that
PG&E's contribution could be as a low as $7.5 million depending on economic assumptions.

A key objective of the public agencies is to establish a second refuge in the Sacramento watershed for the endangered winter run chinook salmon.
Currently numbering in the hundreds, the winter run only spawns in the Sacramento River below Shasta dam.  Restoration of Battle Creek will allow
establishment of a second winter run population in  a tributary watershed somewhat drought resistant due to its spring-fed flows, as well as
safeguard the endangered fish from potential disasters on the Sacramento River such as the 1991 Cantara toxic spill.

Although they support the intent of restoring endangered salmon and steelhead habitat in Battle Creek, Friends of the River and other
conservation groups are disappointed that the tentative agreement between the agencies and PG&E does not require removal of the key Eagle Canyon dam
on the North Fork of Battle Creek.  The dam is located in the middle of the highest quality salmon and steelhead habitat in the entire watershed, and
therefore is a high priority for removal under the CALFED Program.

Eagle Canyon dam represents only about 11 percent of the total project generating capacity, but PG&E has refused to agree to remove the dam,
although it has agreed to remove five other small diversion dams in the watershed.  Instead, the agreement commits the public to spend more than $2
million installing a fish screen and fish ladder on the Eagle Canyon dam in an attempt to facilitate fish migration.  Conservationists question whether
the new screen and ladder will work as effectively as removing the dam to provide full access to Eagle Canyon's high quality salmon and steelhead
habitat.  Even if the Eagle Canyon dam and the five other dams identified in the agreement are removed, seven of PG&E's storage and diversion dams,
miles of canals, and all the project powerhouses on Battle Creek would remain to generate power and profit for the utility.

Conservationists are also concerned about the precedent-setting nature of the agreement.  Currently, state and federal law requires utilities such as
PG&E to have functioning fish screens and ladders on their dams, provide instream flows to maintain healthy fish populations, and to take whatever
measures are needed to protect and enhance threatened and endangered species.  Conservationists believe that the public should cover the costs
of dam removal, but the agreement provides substantial public funding for fish screens, ladders, and instream flows that PG&E is required to provideby law.  Conservationists involved in the federal relicensing of hydroelectric projects throughout California and the nation are concerned that the Battle Creek agreement will establish a bad precedent of public funding to mitigate the environmental impacts of a privately owned profit-making industry.

In addition, PG&E's financial contribution to the agreement is based solely on the utility's estimate of lost power generating revenues.  At the
minimum, the public agenices should independently review the economics of the agreement to ensure that restoration costs are equitably divided
between public and private interests.

What You Can Do:

The state and federal agencies intend to finalize the Battle Creek restoration agreement with PG&E sometime by April 26, 1999.  Please write
separate letters to the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today.  In your letter, support the intent to
restore endangered salmon and steelhead habitat in Battle Creek, but urge the agencies to modify the Battle Creek agreement to:

… Remove the Eagle Canyon dam to restore the best salmon and steelhead habitat in the watershed, in addition to the five other dams that PG&E has
agreed to remove. Even if Eagle Canyon and the five other dams identified in the agreement are removed, seven storage and diversion dams, miles of
canals, and all the project powerhouses would remain in the watershed to generate power and profit for the utility.

… Conduct an independent economic analysis of PG&E's supposed lost generating revenues to ensure an equitable split of restoration costs
between the public and PG&E.

Send your letters to:

Robert C. Hight
California Department of Fish & Game
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramemento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 653-7387

Wayne White
Field Supervisor
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
3310 El Camino Avenue, Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 95821
Fax: (916) 979-2710

For more information, contact Steve Evans at Friends of the River, 915 20th
Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 442-3155, email:


02.04.99 : India : Narmada Update

Environment [19]ENS -- Environment News Service
  By Frederick Noronha
   BOMBAY, India,

   March 26, 1999 (ENS) - Angry campaigners in India vowed to revive this country's best-known anti-dam protest to fight against what they see
   as the uprooting of tens of thousands of people, particularly tribals.  The renewed action comes as the World Commission on Dams wound up its
   first Forum in the Czech Republic today.

   After four years of an uneasy calm, the Narmada Valley is stirring  once again. This follows the recent clearance by the courts for the
   controversial dam project.

   Leaders of the campaign announced a renewed agitation from April 1 to  stop the multi-million plan, known officially as the Sardar Sarovar
   Dam Project. This dam is part of the Narmada Valley Development  Project, a plan to build 30 major, 135 medium and 3,000 small dams on
   the Narmada River and its tributaries.

   To highlight the issue, a march traversing large areas of India is  planned. Marchers are to cross the towns and cities of the provinces
   of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and move towards the national  capital of New Delhi, covering several thousands of kilometres. The
   Narmada Valley Development Project involves four Indian states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

   Campaigners waging a bitter battle against it for many years say the project would displace 200,000 people, mainly tribals of the Satpura
   and Vindhyachal hill ranges in the western areas of North India. Resumption of protests comes shortly after the Supreme Court in New Delhi gave an interim order in February to reverse its stay on further construction of the dam in the northeast region of the federal  province of Gujarat. This court order approved the raising of the  height of the dam from its present height of 80.3 metres to 85 metres.  Campaign leaders, including activist Medha Patkar, said the February
   18 judgment "has yet again stirred up a discussion among the concerned about the Judiciary's role in protecting the interests of the deprived
   and the marginalised, in probing the 'public purpose' of large projects, and in paving the way for sustainable, equitable alternatives."

   One of the 12 Commissioners of the World Commission on Dams, Patkar is a social scientist and the founder of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) in India, an organisation campaigning against the construction of large dams on the Narmada River that includes affected people, Indian supporters, and people around the world. She is a founding member and current National Co-ordinator of the National  Alliance of Peoples Movement.

   Allowing the dam height to be raised would lead to "irreparable damages", said Patkar. "A large part of the tribal villages will be affected in the coming monsoon," she warned. Many tribal villages in northwestern India could be partially or fully submerged with the onset of heavy monsoon rains, less than three months away.

   Campaign groups have been arguing that the regional governments are not prepared to rehabilitate those affected, and would not have "any readiness for it" in coming months or even years.

   Hundreds of families have already returned from rehabilitation sites, due to the abysmal, uninhabitable conditions there, they claim. It has taken more than a month for campaign leaders of the Narmada  Bachao Andolan to mobilise support for a renewed agitation across the vast area.

   "The people's movement in the Narmada Valley has reached a critical  stage: the outcome will be decisive for millions of people fighting  against displacement, unjust and unsustainable policies and projects  in the name of development," Patkar told reporters.

   She called on the people of the valley "to rise up" with the support  and participation of thousands all over the country.

   Campaigners said they expect thousands of affected people to march in  New Delhi on April 1 to expose the Gujarat government's false claims on resettlement and rehabilitation.

   Villagers displaced by other Indian dam projects - including the Bargi, Narmada Sagar, Maheshwar, Tawa and Man - are also to expected  join this march, according to its organizers.

   The Supreme Court reversed its earlier stay on the dam project, after the regional Gujarat government claimed to have re-settled a majority  of the project affected people in the submergence zone.

   But this government's claim is being questioned by the neighbouring state government in Madhya Pradesh, which does not want the height of the dam raised as many of its villages would be affected.

   Campaigners wanted the Indian high court to set up a separate tribunal  to look into various issues raised by the people in their 14 years of "agitation against destructive development."

   Work on this ambitious Indian dam project, the Sardar Sarovar Project,  began in 1985 despite stiff resistance from those who would be displaced.

   Four years ago the Supreme Court ordered a stay on further construction on the ground of unsatisfactory resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected people.

   To add to the tangle, the World Bank withrew its support for the estimated Rs 90 billion project (by 1985 prices), after campaigns by the Indian environmental groups and some donor countries.

   The development company, Sardar Sarovar Naramada Nigam Ltd., points to the need for irrigation and power for the region. It promises environmental restoration and even eco-tourism when the dam is completed. It says resettlement is going well and presents a positive argument to all of the anti-dam activists contentions. "Sardar Sarovar project is the first major river valley project which is subjected to exacting environmental conditions imposed by the Government of India at the time of according clearance to this project," the company says.

   In the February 1999 court ruling, the governments were permitted to raise the height of the dam. But the court also simultaneously ordered  proper rehabilitation of all those under 85 metres, and a submission  by the governments detailing rehabilitation plans for families under  90 metres.

   "People of Narmada Valley, after struggling for last 14 years, are  left to face this sheer injustice at the hands of the system at large. The State has been trying to displace the people through fraud and repression. The tribal and farmer families are deprived of their lives and livelihood," charged an angry Patkar.

   She argued that the outcome of the eco-battle in the Narmada valley,  now in a critical stage, would be "decisive for millions of people fighting against isplacement, unsustainable and unjust policies and  projects."

   Campaigners are furious at what they say were moves by regional governments to give the country's topmost court "misleading affidavits, claims and information" over the rehabilitation situation. This battle aimed at both strengthening the movement and also letting the Indian state "know the intensity by which we all uphold the Right  to Life and Livelihood", said the campaign groups in a statement made  available to ENS here.

   "For the people of Narmada valley, time has come again to fight with  their only weapon - their lives - to save and protect life and not to succumb to the immoral pressures of the system," said an angry  statement.

   In recent years, India has seen a sharpening of environmental battles  for survival, which have taken on an bitter tone in recent years  especially when large sections of the poor are adversely affected.  [20]Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.

Susanne Wong
Campaigns Assistant
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703
Tel: 1.510.848.1155 ext 316        email:
Fax: 1.510.848.1008                     web:

01.04.99 : World Commission on Dams Convenes Meeting of Opposites
   Environment [19]ENS -- Environment News Service

   PRAGUE, Czech Republic, March 25, 1999 (ENS) - Dams are a flashpoint issue in the sustainable management of finite water resources. In an  attempt to move the debate beyond conflict and into the development of  internationally acceptable policies on dams and their alternatives,  the World Commission on Dams is hosting the first meeting of its  48-member Forum here today and tomorrow.

   Called a Meeting of Opposites on Water Conflicts and Their Resolution,  the forum is seen as a sounding board for the work of the Commission.

   The World Commission on Dams was launched on February 16, 1998, by its two sponsoring organizations, the World Bank and the World Conservation Union. The Commission's mandate sets it two goals: to review the development effectiveness of dams and assess alternatives for water resources and energy development; and to develop  internationally-accepted standards, guidelines and criteria for  decision-making in the planning, design, construction, monitoring, operation and ecommissioning of dams.

   Like the Commission itself, the Forum is an innovation in global  public policy-making. It brings together a broad spectrum of pro-dam  and anti-dam interests. These include utilities and indigenous people, economists and social activists, environmentalists and engineers, as  well as lending institutions and aid agencies which often are  approached to fund dams.

   While today's meeting was a closed session, Friday the Forum meets in  an open session, starting with a panel discussion on a key  international waterway, the Danube River.

   The largest river in Central Europe, the Danube and its basin include 17 countries, and its waters are used by 80 million people. Between 1950 and 1980, 69 dams were built along the Danube River.

   Individual countries have sought to dam and canalise Danube waters despite opposition from their neighbors. In recent years, however, a degree of cross-border consensus on some issues has been achieved through Danube treaties. In the case of the Gabcikova dam, Slovakia and Hungary agreed to submit their dispute to the International Court of Justice.

   Activists have fought governments to preserve communities, plants and animals affected by engineering works on the river. Many of the adversaries recently have joined together in regional initiatives to seek progress on social and environmental issues along the Danube.

   This meeting is a mechanism for maintaining a dialogue between the World Commission on Dams and the respective constituencies of the Forum members. Since the Commission is facilitating debate on the complex issue of the development effectiveness of dams, the Forum members can help to build ownership of the work of the Commission amongst a broader, larger range of constituencies.

   The understanding and acceptance of the final products of the  Commission will only be possible if these products are subjected to constituency input and nsultation.

   The Forum is one of the principal mechanisms for preparing a global  initiative and strategy for dissemination of the WCD recommendations  and final report by June 2000.

   The Forum is expected to meet three times: in March 1999, November  1999 and April 2000.

   List of Invited Members for the First Meeting

   Multilateral Agencies
     * Asian Development Bank, Manila
     * African Development Bank, Abidjan
     * Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome
     * Inter-American Development Bank, Washington
     * United Nations Development Programme, New York
     * United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi
     * World Bank, Washington

   Affected Peoples' Groups
     * Coordination for the Senegal River Basin, Senegal
     * Federacon de Indgenas del Estado Bolvar/COICA, Venezuela
     * Grand Council of the Cree, Canada
     * Movimento dos Antigos por Barragens, Brazil
     * Narmada Bachao Andolan, India
     * SUNGI Development Foundation, Pakistan

   International Associations
     * International Commission for Irrigation & Drainage, New Delhi
     * International Commission on Large Dams, South Africa
     * International Energy Agency, Paris

   Bilateral Agencies
     * Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development,
     * Norwegian Agency for International Co-operation, Norway
     * Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, Switzerland
     * Swedish International Development Agency, Sweden

     * Berne Declaration, Switzerland
     * Environmental Development Action, Senegal
     * Help the Volga River, Russia
     * International Rivers Network, United States
     * Intermediate Technology Development Group, United Kingdom
     * The World Conservation Union, Switzerland
     * Sobrevivencia-Friends of the Earth, Paraguay
     * World Wide Fund for Nature, Switzerland

   Government Agencies
     * United States Bureau of Reclamation, United States
     * Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Lesotho
     * Ministry of Water Resources, China
     * National Water Commission, Mexico
     * Ministry of Mahaweli Development, Sri Lanka

     * Electrobras, Brazil
     * Hydro-Qubec, Canada
     * Korea Electric Power Company, South Korea

   Research Institutes/Resource Persons
     * Centro EULA, Ciudad Universitaria Concepcion, Chile
     * The Institute of Hydroelectric Studies and Design, Romania
     * Tropical Environmental Consultants Ltd., Senega
     * World Resources Institute, United States
     * Water Research Institute, Israel
     * Winrock International, Nepal
     * Focus on the Global South, Thailand
     * DAWN, Fiji

   Private Sector Firms
     * Enron, United States
     * Harza Engineering Firm, United States
     * Siemens, Germany

   River Basin Authorities
     * Confederacion Hydrografica del Ebro, Spain
     * Mekong River Commission, Cambodia
     * Volta River Authority, Ghana
     * Jordan Valley Authority, Jordan

   Export Credit Guarantee Agencies
     * Hermes, Germany
     * OECF, Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund, Japan
     * U.S. Export/Import Bank, USA
    [20]Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.

Susanne Wong
Campaigns Assistant
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703
Tel: 1.510.848.1155 ext 316        email:
Fax: 1.510.848.1008                     web:


31.03.99 : Three Gorges project: open letter to Jiang Zemin
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 12:41:17
From: Peter Bosshard <>

Press release : Three Gorges project: open letter to Jiang Zemin

The Berne Declaration is opposed to any further involvement of Swiss
companies or banks in China's Three Gorges dam. This is the message of an
open letter of the Swiss advocacy group to China's President Jiang Zemin.
Jiang's recent visit to Switzerland was attended by constant NGO activities.

* * *

The Three Gorges dam on China's Yangtze river is plagued by wide-spread
corruption. As a consequence, "the social, environmental and technical
problems of the project appear to be even more serious than predicted".
This is the conclusion of an open letter of the Berne Declaration, a Swiss
advocacy group, to China's President Jiang Zemin. Jiang Zemin visited
Switzerland on 25-27 March, meeting with the country's government,
representatives of international organizations, and private sector
companies such as ABB.

ABB is supplying eight giant generators to the Three Gorges hydropower
plant, and is interested in follow-up contracts. In 1997, Credit Suisse
First Boston contributed $ 66 million to a Yankee bond which partly
finances the Yangtze dam. ABB's contract is covered by an official Swiss
export risk guarantee of SF 211 million. In its letter to the Chinese
President, the Berne Declaration expressed strong opposition to any further
involvement of Swiss companies, banks, or government agencies in the Three
Gorges dam. It recommended that the Chinese President initiate a
"comprehensive independent evaluation" of the mega project.

Jiang Zemin's visit to Switzerland was the focus of constant NGO
activities. Amnesty International, the Berne Declaration and other human
rights groups organized a mass rally before the President arrived in Berne.
Tibetan protesters held up the official state reception and prompted the
Chinese President to complain that the Swiss government did not manage to
control its own people. Berne Declaration activists staged a protest before
Jiang Zemin visited the ABB plant where the Three Gorges generators are
manufactured. Alois Sonnenmoser, CEO of ABB Switzerland, remained
unimpressed. He presented a golden model of the controversial Three Gorges
dam as a gift to the Chinese President.

For further information: Peter Bosshard, Berne Declaration, phone +41 1 271
64 25,,

The Berne Declaration is a Swiss non-governmental organization with 16,000
members. Since 1968, it has promoted more equitable and sustainable
North-South relations through research, public education, and advocacy
work. The Berne Declaration has opposed Swiss involvement in the Three
Gorges project since 1993.

Enclosure: Open letter to President Jiang Zemin

His Excellency
Mr. Jiang Zemin
President of the People's Republic of China
c/o Embassy of the People's Republic of China
Kalcheggweg 10
3006 Berne

19 March 1999

Open letter regarding the Three Gorges project

[Translation from the German original]

His Excellency,

The Berne Declaration (BD) is a Swiss public-interest group which has
promoted equitable North-South relations for more than thirty years. In
1993 we had the chance to enjoy the hospitality of the Chinese people as
representatives of the BD. We wish you an enjoyable and interesting stay in
Switzerland as well.

We take the liberty of addressing the problems of the Three Gorges project
on the Yangtze in this open letter at the occasion of your visit.
Switzerland has become involved in the world's largest power project in
several ways: The ABB corporation is procuring eight of the fourteen
generators of the project's phase I. The Swiss Export Risk Guarantee is
covering the contract with a guarantee of more than SF 200 million. Credit
Suisse is contributing $ 66 million towards a bond of China's State
Development Bank, which will partly finance the construction of the Three
Gorges project. Finally, ABB has expressed an interest in securing
contracts for the generators of phase II and for the power transmission
component of the project.

Many environmental and developmental organizations are opposed to the
construction of the Three Gorges project. They are concerned that the dam,
and the resettlement of the affected population, will cause unmanageable
environmental and social problems. They further believe that the Three
Gorges project is not a rational response to the pressing problems of flood
management and energy needs. Obviously, whether or not to build the Three
Gorges project is for the People's Republic of China to decide. The Berne
Declaration supports socially and environmentally sustainable investments
in China and other countries. It is however opposed to any involvement of
Switzerland in the Three Gorges project. In 1996/97, the organization
called on the Swiss government, on ABB and Credit Suisse not to become
involved in it. Its appeal to the government was supported by more than 300
personalities of Swiss public life. 25,000 citizens supported the appeal by
sending postcards to the government and ABB. The Three Gorges project is
also being vigorously debated in the Swiss media and parliament.

Pending problems of the project

The Berne Declaration is monitoring the construction of the Three Gorges
project with great concern. Reports from the project area indicate that the
social, technical and environmental problems have so far exceeded our

* Resettlement: The number of people who need to be resettled has
originally been estimated at 1.2 million. Since the farmers of the area
tend to have more children than expected, this figure had to be revised.
Sources within the Chinese authorities now estimate the number of affected
people to be 1.98 million. Not enough land is available for these people.
30 percent of the land at the resettlement sites is at an incline of at
least 25 degrees, and 80 per cent of the reservoir area is affected by soil
erosion. When Prime Minister Zhu Rongji inspected the project in December
1998, he issued decrees forbidding farming on slopes steeper than 25
degrees, or opening up forested land. The "South China Morning Post"
reports that due to these - environmentally sensitive - measures,
sufficient land will not be available for the Three Gorges project oustees.

* Colonization: Since land is scarce, project authorities encourage
affected families to migrate to remote provinces such as Xinjiang and Inner
Mongolia as members of the paramilitary Construction and Production Corps.
Such colonization programs are extremely unpopular, both with the affected
families and the host populations. In October 1998, severe tensions arose
in Kashgar after Three Gorges oustees had been relocated to the area. Eight
policemen were killed, and the city had to be placed under curfew.

* Employment: The affected urban population is supposed to be rehabilitated
not by land, but by new jobs. Due to the current economic difficulties, the
state-owned companies of the region are forced to dismiss 100,000s of
employees. They will not be in a position to hire numerous new workers from
the Three Gorges area. In 1989, China's Ministry of Agriculture estimated
that roughly 70 percent of the country's reservoir oustees were still
living in "extreme poverty". We are concerned that most Three Gorges
oustees will share the same destiny.

* Corruption: Corruption adds to the problems of the affected people. It is
a general practice of project officials to embezzle funds e.g. by placing
relatives on the lists of people eligible for compensation. "The central
government gives the money to our provincial officials", a farm woman aptly
described the practice. "They give it to the county, and the county gives
it to the city bosses. But as it goes down the line, each official takes
his cut. Who knows what will be left by the time it gets to us?" According
to recent reports, many affected people only receive a compensation of
10,000-11,000 Yuan, instead of the 20,000 Yuan originally promised.
"Compensation provided to rural residents is woefully insufficient for them
to carry out resettlement and establish a new life", a petition to the
central government signed by more than 10,000 peasants states (according to
the "South China Morning Post"). The "Morning Post" reports that according
to the National Audit Office, project officials have so far embezzled 232
million Yuan.

* Construction: Corruption also prejudices the quality and security of
construction. Numerous reports confirm that construction budgets have been
diminished by embezzlement, or that contractors provide building materials
such as concrete of substandard quality. Thus, in 1998 a bridge collapsed
near the dam site while still under construction, taking ten lives.
Similarly, a newly-built bridge in Sichuan and a dam in Hubei collapsed in
recent months, again taking many lives. According to the "South China
Morning Post", the new settlements which were supposed to host the
population of Zigui and Fengjie were partly built on sand. In the case of
Fengjie, construction had to be stopped and recommenced at a different
place. The lacking quality of construction creates security risks for the
affected people. "Any carelessness will bring disaster to future
generations and cause irretrievable losses", Prime Minister Zhu Rongji
warned when he visited the project area in December 1998.

* Environment and public health: Environmental experts are concerned that
the massive interference with the Yangtze ecosystem and the inflow of large
amounts of raw sewage into the reservoir will cause major environmental
destruction. E.g. they fear that the dam will lead to the extinction of
endangered species such as the river dolphin (baiji). Attempts to raise the
baiji in custody have so far failed. The leading medical journal, "The
Lancet" further estimated in May 1998 that diseases such as malaria or
schistosomiasis might become endemic in the reservoir area. The journal of
the British Medical Association warned that the Three Gorges project might
become "the Chernobyl of hydropower".

In summary, the social, environmental and technical problems of the Three
Gorges project appear to be even more serious than predicted. "Everywhere
the problems are turning out to be much bigger than predicted", the "South
China Morning Post" commented on February 14, 1999: "There are more people,
more corruption, less land and fewer jobs than anyone - even pessimists -
ever imagined." The Beijing-based magazine, "Strategy and Management",
warned at the same time that the plight of the affected people "may become
an explosive social problem, and the dam region will become a hotbed of
sustained upheaval".

Not a rational response to existing problems

At the same time it appears that the project does not provide a rational
response to the pressing problems of energy needs and flood management.

* Flood management: Mr. Lu Youmei, Chairman of the Three Gorges Development
Corporation, maintained after the catastrophic floods of summer 1998 that
the construction of the Three Gorges dam would resolve future flood
problems. Many experts do not agree with this view. First, the dam will not
check the contributaries of the lower reaches of the Yangtze, which have
often caused disastrous floods. Secondly, the means for a decentralized
strengthening of the dikes are lacking because all resources are
concentrated on the Three Gorges project. The plans by the Ministry of
Water Resources of 1980 to reinforce the main dikes along the Yangtze have
so far only been implemented to a very modest degree. "With more and more
new star dams dazzling people's eyes, the first generation old dams have
been forgotten", the "China Youth Daily" warned in February 1998.

* Energy provision: According to the US American Battelle Memorial
Institute and the Energy Research Institute of the State Planning
Commission, the power produced by the Three Gorges power plant will cost at
least 8.4 US Cents per kilowatt-hour. In comparison, combined cycle plants
in China could produce power at less than 4 US Cents per kilowatt-hour. If
the Three Gorges project were cancelled and the budget were invested in
combined cycle plants, China could create 43,000-118,000 megawatt of new
power producing capacity instead of 18,000 megawatt, and could substitute
two to six times as much coal as with the Yangtze dam. According to the
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Energy Research Institute,
retrofitting one quarter of China's boilers for cogeneration would allow to
produce the same amount of power, and at lower cost, than at the Three
Gorges. However, public investments in cogeneration have been scaled down
considerably in recent years.

Due to the reduced economic growth, power consumption in China is below
expectations. The Cambridge Energy Research Associates believe that "there
is now an electricity overcapacity problem in China". AES China Generating
Co., which operates nine power plants in the People's Republic, can only
sell part of the power produced, in spite of valid power purchase
agreements. Combined cycle plants and cogeneration would not only be less
costly than the Three Gorges project - they could also be built faster, and
could be adapted to effective demand more flexibly. The expensive and large
power project on the Yangtze on the other hand shares many parallels with
the ill-conceived, politically motivated investments which caused the
economic crisis in several Southeast Asian countries in 1997.


China's central government and the project authorities are taking energetic
measures in order to resolve the problems of the Three Gorges project.
After visiting the project area in late 1998, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji
decided to dismiss more than 100 officials. He also hired 200 additional
inspectors in order to tackle the rampant corruption. Legal procedures have
been taken against 125 project officials. These measures deserve our
respect. At the same time we do not believe that they will resolve the
deep-rooted social, environmental, technical and economic problems of the
project. Prime Minister Zhu Rongji announced in late 1998 that foreign
experts should be contracted to evaluate the security of the project. Based
on this idea we recommend to His Excellency to initiate a comprehensive,
independent evaluation of all aspects of the Three Gorges project
(resettlement, ecology, security, economics, flood management).

It is up to China's authorities to decide over the future of the Three
Gorges project. In Switzerland we are committed to make the Export Risk
Guarantee, ABB and Credit Suisse accountable for the emerging problems, and
to prevent that Swiss companies, banks and government agencies participate
in the project with further contracts, loans, or guarantees. Above all, we
are opposed to further loans or bonds, and to an involvement of ABB and ERG
in the construction of phase II. At the same time, we are open for a
dialogue with China's government, and with all other institutions involved
in the project, in order to look for more sustainable solutions. We will
personally have the chance to attend the first meeting of the World
Commission on Dams Forum in Prague on 25/26 March, 1999. We look forward to
meet with the representatives of the Chinese government and of ABB at this

We appreciate the interest His Excellency is taking in this matter. In the
meantime, we wish to express

our highest consideration,

Peter Bosshard  Thierry Pellet
Berne Declaration Berne Declaration

cc. Ms. Ruth Dreifuss, President of the Federal Council
    Mr. Flavio Cotti, Federal Councillor
    Mr. Pascal Couchepin, Federal Councillor
    Mr. Göran Lindahl, CEO, ABB Group
    Mr. Lukas Mühlemann, CEO, Credit Suisse Group

29.03.99, The New York Times

Questioning Three Gorges Dam


In China, where even a slight relaxation in suppression of debate can indicate a softening of official policy, it is encouraging that some publications have cast an increasingly critical eye on the Three Gorges Dam being built on the Yangtze River. The official line is that there is no turning back on a project that will destroy one of the world's great scenic areas, inundate hundreds of archeological sites and force 1.3 million people to resettle elsewhere when the dam's 400-mile reservoir floods towns and farmlands. But the insoluble social, environmental and technical problems that have plagued the project cannot be wished away, and they may
now be getting some consideration.

 The dam has been a matter of internal disagreement within the Communist Party for some time. As far back as 1956, a vice minister of electric power, Li Rui, produced a report arguing for smaller dams on tributaries of the Yangtze rather than a 600-foot behemoth at the Three Gorges.
 In 1992, when the final vote to approve the Three Gorges project was taken in the National People's Congress, a third of the delegates abstained or voted against it, even though the dam was championed by Li Peng, who was then Prime Minister. But all public debate on the project has been banned
since the Tiananmen demonstrations in 1989.

 So it is noteworthy that the Chinese journal Strategy and Management, a publication with some links to the Government, printed an article by a scholar under a pseudonym detailing the failure of resettlement efforts so far, and the extreme problems of relocating hundreds of thousands of people into steep hillsides that are barely habitable. In February, People's Daily, the party-controlled paper, ran articles on engineering issues and problems with excavating cultural relics that would be destroyed in the flood zone. Other papers have reported on official corruption connected to the project. Chinese media reports have also noted that existing
flood-control systems and older dams are neglected and in danger of collapse as attention is diverted to new projects like Three Gorges.

 Last December, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, who is considered neutral on the project, raised concerns about the project's safety and suggested it may be
necessary to bring in international experts to monitor the engineering. Li Peng, who now heads the National People's Congress, is expected to fight
any retreat on the project. But the thaw in repression of criticism suggests that altering and even halting the project may yet be possible.
 That is why it is crucial for American financial institutions to refrain from underwriting bonds for Chinese entities, like the State Development
Bank, that finance construction of the dam. China cannot finance the dam, which is expected to cost well over $25 billion, without foreign capital.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank and the World Bank have refused to support the project because of its disastrous environmental and social consequences.

 The world is beginning to change its views on large dams. The World Bank has sponsored creation of the independent World Commission on Dams to
assess the effectiveness of such projects and alternatives, with a report due next year. Major dams have been stopped in mid-construction in
Malaysia, India and Eastern Europe when the governments found that the benefits were uncertain and the costs enormous.

The Three Gorges Dam is a throwback to failed development strategies of  decades past. This is an important moment to show China's leaders that the
international community wants no part of this destructive, gargantuan  project.

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company

Doris Shen
International Rivers Network
Three Gorges Campaign &
China Program Coordinator
1847 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA  94703
tel:  510.848.1155 ext. 317
fax:  510.848.1008


25.03.99 : Thailand : Pak Mun Villagers Occupy Dam, Demand Compensation from World Bank

More than 5,000 disgruntled villagers occupied the Pak Mun Dam site in Thailand on March 23 to demand compensation from the Thai government and the World Bank. The villagers have set up a settlement near the dam and intend to stay indefinitely, until their demands are met.

Eight groups of villagers affected by various development projects -including six dams - in the Northeast of Thailand have united at Pak Mun to
demand reparations from the Thai government. In a statement released on March 23, the villagers said:
"We, the people who have been affected by development projects, have chosen to seize Pak Mun dam because this dam is the symbol of development, which
has caused us serious social and environmental problems. We will fight until we have justice, and the dam builders resolve our problems."

The Pak Mun villagers are demanding compensation of 15 rai (2.4 acres) of land for the 3,080 fishing families who lost fisheries income because of
the project. The cost of this would amount to approximately US$45 million. If the government and World Bank fail to respond, villagers are demanding
that the dam gates be opened to allow fish to migrate upstream. The villagers are also demanding funding to correct and prevent the problems
they are now experiencing with intestinal and liver flukes, and the debilitating disease schistosomiasis.

The 136 MW Pak Mun Dam, which was completed in 1994, was built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand with US$24 million in
financing from the World Bank. From the outset, the project was highly controversial due to the predicted impacts on the rich and productive
fisheries of the Mun River. Between 1990 and 1997, there was intense opposition to the dam by thousands of people living in local communities
along the Mun River.

As a direct result of the dam, more than 20,000 people have been affected by drastic reductions in fish populations upstream of the dam site, and
other changes to their livelihoods. The dam has blocked the migration of fish, and a $1 million fish ladder, promoted by the World Bank's fisheries
experts as a mitigation measure, has proved useless.
Mr. Thongcharoen Srihadham, chairman of the Villagers Committee for Recovery of the Mun River, says:

"Before the dam was built, our livelihoods were supported by the resources provided by the Mun River. We did not need to pay for food, because we
could get everything from the river and the forest. After the dam was built, everything changed. The dam blocked the fish and destroyed the
rapids. We became poorer and had no food from nature. Our families and communities were destroyed."

The World Bank has consistently refused to take any responsibility for the project's problems. A June 1998 World Bank Operations Evaluations
Department (OED) report on Recent Experience with Involuntary Resettlement goes so far as to claim that Pak Mun was "among the best experiences with
resettlement among Bank-assisted projects." The OED states that resettlement of families at Pak Mun was "highly satisfactory", that
families received "exceedingly generous compensation", and that "there is no conclusive evidence of any impact … on the fish population."

In a letter delivered to the World Bank on March 15, 1999, 27 Thai groups state that the dam "destroyed the Mun River, fisheries, and the way of life
of people at Pak Mun… The World Bank is responsible for the destruction, cares only about itself and not about people, and that the Pak Mun dam is
development only for the World Bank."
Ms. Aviva Imhof, South-East Asia Campaigner with International Rivers Network, says :

"The World Bank needs to take responsibility for the problems it has created at Pak Mun. The Bank was repeatedly warned by villagers and NGOs
prior to project construction that fisheries would decline significantly after the dam was completed, yet it consistently dismissed these concerns.
It is simply unacceptable that a so-called 'development' project has caused the impoverishment of up to 20,000 families, and that the institution
responsible for this can walk away without paying for its mistakes."
The Pak Mun dam is the focal dam for the World Commission on Dams (WCD) Mekong basin study, and will be subjected to more intense scrutiny over the
coming months. The WCD final report is due by the end of the year 2000.

For more information, contact:
· Ms. Aviva Imhof, International Rivers Network, Tel: 1 510 848 1155,
· Mr. Chainarong Sretthachau, South-East Asia Rivers Network (Thailand
Chapter), Tel: 66 53 221157,


01.03.99: You can help saving the Danube, please help!

Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 18:02:57 EST
Subject: You can help saving the Danube, please help!

Dear Friend,

I would like to ask you a favor.  I would like to ask you to send the attached
letter or something similar to it to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor

This is because on the 10th of March he is planning to make an environmentally
disastrous decision in agreeing to the Slovak demand of NOT returning the
Danube into its natural riverbed.

He plans to do that, because he thinks that being a „good neighbor" to
Slovakia is the price he has to pay for Hungary being admitted into NATO and
the EU.

Mr. Orban is a decent 36 years old young man,  he is also an environmentalist.
He is planning to do this hesitantly, against his better judgement and under
the impression  that the World does not care about the Danube. If he receives
a few hundred letters from around the world, he will change his mind.

Please do send one of those letters and please ask your colleagues to do the
same. We have only a week to change the Prime Minister's mind and thereby
protect this marvelous biosytem, the only inland sea delta of Europe. Please

With Best Regards: prof. Béla Lipták
Editor of the Environmental Engineers' Handbook, USA


COPIES TO:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

SUBJECT: Return the Danube into its natural riverbed (Cunovo-Dunakiliti)


The Honorable Prime Minister of Hungary
Viktor Orban

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

We understand that on the 10th of March, the Hungarian delegation to
Bratislava plans to withdraw its demand for the complete return of the Danube
river (from Cunovo to Dunakiliti) into the natural riverbed. This is in spite
of the fact, that the International Court of Justice in The Hague found, (with
10 in favor, 5 against) that: „Even as a temporary measure, the execution of
diverting the Danube was illegal."

We have also learned, that Hungary is willing to accept only 30% of the
river's yearly average flow (600 m3/s out of 2000) and in order to raise the
water level at this low flowrate, plans to block the riverbed by installing a
half dozen submerged dams. Because of the heavy metals and other poisons in
this highly polluted river section, diking the river will result in the
collection of toxic sludge, which in turn will poison the ground waters.

Therefore we respectfully suggest, that Hungary should continue to insist on
the full return of the Danube. We also respectfully suggest, that if it is
necessary to raise the water level in the natural riverbed, this should be
done by restricting and not by blocking the flow of the river.

The World Commission on Dams is meeting on the 14th of March in Prague and
will be glad to provide technical information on sizing such open riverbed
restrictions, as have been  developed by the U.S. Dept. od Agriculture,
Division of Irrigation and others.

Respectfully yours,


21.02.99 : Rhein Hochwasser: Ohne hessische Polder bleibt Koeln bedroht. WWF raet: Flutschaeden bei Gemeinden stromaufwaerts einfordern

Rastatt, 21. Februar 1999
. Knapp drei Monate nach der letzten Hochwasserwelle sind Ko-blenz und Koeln erneut von einer Rheinflut bedroht. Solange jedoch Hessen keine zusaetzli-chen Rueckhalteflaechen zur Verfuegung stellt, geraten die Gemeinden am Mittel- und Nie-derrhein immer wieder in Gefahr, ueberschwemmt zu werden, sagte das WWF-Auen-Institut. Die Experten raten daher, die Schaeden kuenftig bei den Oberliegern einzufordern.
Anders als bei den letzten beiden Fluten kommen die Wassermassen diesmal vor allem vom Oberrhein. "In einem solchen Fall koennten Hochwasserrueckhalteraeume in Hessen die Situation entscheidend entschaerfen", sagte Prof. Emil Dister, der Leiter des WWF-Auen-Instituts in Rastatt. Eine Gesamtplanung fuer solche Rueckhalteraeume liegt seit fast zehn Jahren in den Schubladen. "Wir fordern die kuenftige Landesregierung von Hessen daher auf, diese Plaene zuegig umzusetzen", betonte der Hochwasserexperte.
"Geeignete Flaechen gibt es dafuer in Hessen genug - rund 6 800 Hektar Ueberflutungsraum koennte man ohne weiteres gewinnen", erlaeuterte Dister. Bisher scheiterte die Umsetzung der Plaene an kommunalen Widerstaenden. Einige Kommunen wuerden sich solche Flaechen lieber freihalten, um Industrie- und Wohngebiete planen zu koennen. "Sie selbst haben von einem Rueckhalteraum fuer Hochwasser, kurzfristig betrachtet, keine finanziellen Vorteile", sagte er.
Der WWF raet den Betroffenen, sich gegen diese unsolidarische Haltung zur Wehr zu set-zen. "Vielleicht kommt endlich etwas in Bewegung in den Hochwasserschutz, wenn die geschaedigten Kommunen ihre Flutschaeden bei den Ortschaften flussaufwaerts einfordern!"

Weitere Informationen erhalten Sie bei
Anja Rech, Pressereferentin im WWF-Auen-Institut
Josefstr. 1, 76437 Rastatt
Tel. 07222/38 07-14, Fax -99
oder Handy 0171/5 89 72 26

17.02.99 : WWF NEWS: Mit dem Wasser kehrt Artenvielfalt ins Donaudelta zurück

Erfolge in WWF-Projektgebiet nach Renaturierung

Rastatt/Tulcea, 16. Februar 1999

Seit 1990 setzt sich das WWF-Auen-Institut fuer das  Donaudelta, das zweitgroesste Feuchtgebiet Europas ein. Ziel ist es, trockengelegte Auengebiete wieder an den Fluss anzubinden und so zu renaturieren. Mittlerweile sind die Erfolge nicht mehr zu uebersehen: Wo es vor den Renaturierungen nur noch eine Fischart gab, tummeln sich heute wieder ueber zwanzig. Und besonders bei den Kleintieren entdeckten die WWF-Mitarbeiter eine erstaunliche Vielfalt.
Das Muendungsgebiet der Donau ins Schwarze Meer ist fuer seine Artenfuelle bekannt. Touristen geniessen den Anblick von Reihern, Pelikanen und Adlern. Insgesamt wurden dort ueber 300 Vogelarten erfasst. Mit etwas Glueck stoesst man auf einen Fischotter oder sogar einen Nerz. Doch auf rumaenischer Seite waren seit den sechziger Jahren fast 40 000 Hektar dieser einmaligen Feuchtgebiete eingedeicht worden, um sie landwirtschaftlich zu nutzen. Durch die Trockenlegung versteppten sie, zahlreiche Wasserpflanzen und -tiere verschwanden. Besonders dramatisch wirkten sich die Eingriffe auf die Fischwelt aus - zu Beginn der Renaturierungsmassnahmen war der einstige Fischreichtum in den trockengelegten Flaechen bis auf eine einzige Art zusammengeschrumpft.
Auf Veranlassung des WWF werden diese Flaechen seit sechs Jahren durch gezielte Deichoeff-nungen wieder ueberflutet. Biologen des WWF und des rumaenischen Donaudelta-Instituts ueberpruefen regelmaessig den Erfolg der Massnahmen. Bei diesen Untersuchungen konnten sie jetzt den hohen oekologischen Wert der renaturierten Flaechen bestaetigen. "Die Tiere, deren Lebensraum damals zerstoert wurde, sind erstaunlich schnell wieder zurueckgekehrt", stellte der Zoologe des WWF-Auen-Instituts, Dr. Eckbert Schneider fest. Er erlaeuterte, dass man dort heute beispielsweise wieder mehr als zwanzig Fischarten findet.
Besonders augenfaellig ist der Artenreichtum des Donaudeltas jedoch unter den Kleintieren. Fachleute ermittelten fast 3 400 Insektenarten und ueber 200 Spinnenarten, darunter viele sel-tene. "Diese Zahlen sind bemerkenswert hoch, wenn man sie mit den Auen der mittleren und oberen Donau vergleicht", erlaeuterte Schneider. Sie spiegelten die aussergewoehnliche Vielfalt an Lebensraeumen im Delta wider: "Hier ist von nassen Senken bis hin zu wuestenhaften Sandduenen alles auf engstem Raum vorhanden", betonte er. Dies zeige, dass die erwuenschte Entwicklung eingesetzt habe und die Renaturierung ihr Ziel erreiche, fasste der Zoologe zusammen.
Weitere Informationen erhalten Sie bei
Anja Rech, Pressereferentin im WWF-Auen-Institut
Josefstr. 1, 76437 Rastatt
Tel. 0 72 22/38 07-14, Fax -99


From: WWF Infostelle <info@WWF.DE>

04.02.99 : Tag der Feuchtgebiete: WWF-Forderungen zum Schutz der Flussauen

Rastatt, 1. Februar 1999.
Zum "Tag der Feuchtgebiete", dem 2. Februar, forderte das WWF-Auen-Institut, den Schutz der stark dezimierten Flussauen zu verstaerken. Dies verbessere den Hochwasserschutz. Zudem rette man die natuerlichen Standorte der Silberweide, einem der wenigen Baeume, die lange Ueberschwemmungen ertragen. Sie ist 1999 "Baum des Jahres".

"In Deutschland sind kaum zehn Prozent der flussbegleitenden Auwaelder uebrig, am Oberrhein sind es sogar nur noch etwa zwei Prozent", fasste Dr. Erika Schneider, Botanikerin im WWF-Auen-Institut in Rastatt, zusammen. Grund dafuer sei unter anderem der Ausbau und die Begradigung von Fluessen. So zerstoerte allein der Bau der letzten beiden Staustufen am Oberrhein bei Gambsheim und Iffezheim 130 Quadratkilometer Aue. Das entspricht zwei Drittel der Flaeche, die noch 1955 regelmaessig ueberschwemmt werden konnte.

"Damit gehen auch die natuerlichen Standorte fuer die Silberweide verloren", erlaeuterte Schneider. Die Samen der Silberweide benoetigen zum Keimen gut durchfeuchtete, unbewachsene Sand- oder Schlickstandorte. Geeignete Flaechen sind die Sandbaenke, die in einem lebendigen Fluss immer wieder entstehen. Verbaute Fluesse lassen diese Dynamik heute jedoch nicht mehr zu. Die Folge: die Silberweide kann sich nicht mehr natuerlich vermehren.

Sie ist jedoch eine der wenigen Baumarten, die langanhaltende Ueberflutungen ueberstehen, wie Schneider betonte: "Diese Weidenart kann bis zu 190 Tagen im Wasser stehen." So stellt sie einen unersetzlichen Bestandteil der Auwaelder dar, die auf den steten Wechsel von Hochwasser und Trockenphasen angewiesen sind. Diese Eigenschaft macht die Auen zu einer Chance fuer den Menschen: Sie ermoeglichen eine natuerliche Rueckhaltung von Hochwasser, sofern sie noch an den Fluss angebunden sind. Daher fordert das WWF-Auen-Institut bestehende Feuchtgebiete zu schuetzen und zu sichern, den Schutz der Auen durch einen oekologisch gepraegten Hochwasserschutz voranzutreiben, und im Rahmen der Agenda 2000 verstaerkt landwirtschaftliche Flaechen in Auengebieten stillzulegen.

Weitere Informationen zu diesem Thema, z.B. ein Faktenblatt
"Silberweide" und ein Positionspapier zum Hochwasserschutz erhalten Sie

Anja Rech, Pressereferentin im WWF-Auen-Institut
Josefstr. 1, 76437 Rastatt
Tel. 07222/3807-14, Fax -99

Weitere Informationen finden Sie unter

22.01.99 : Spain : News Letter action against the building of Itoiz dam

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These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.
otection Areas.
Last november the European Ombusdman concluded, after a two years research, that the closure of the legal case against Itoiz by the European Comision
was a case of Bad Administration.
Nevertheless, the EC does not intend to take any step to re-establish the legality in this case.

Thats why we are asking for YOUR help.


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These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.