Sonia Hererro Ortega

What is your motivation for doing research related to free-flowing rivers?

Humans modify all ecosystems on Earth. One of them is rivers and studying their pristine conditions will give as baseline conditions to use as reference in management and restoration of already altered rivers. One of the consequences of damming is the increase in Greenhouse gases emissions. Greenhouse gases increase Earth´s temperature, one of the drivers of climate change. Thus, studying free-flowing rivers will give us knowledge that can be incorporated into environmental assessments before damming.

Why should we defend these wild rivers?

Most of the massive damming plans are in remote and pristine areas of the world, like the Balkan region. Thus, Free-flowing rivers are biodiversity refuges and unaltered geomorphological reference systems. Nevertheless, local communities´ awareness of the river value is low, and they not involved in the decision making. Increase the protection of these rivers is needed, as the current unilateral damming decisions of such valuable ecosystems cannot be made without involving locals and researchers.