Ein Fisch springt vor einem kleinen Wasserfall aus dem Fluss.  | © iStock.com / annedehaas

Helping fish to climb

The majority of Germany's rivers have been widened and straightened in recent times, and this has had a significant impact on the fish, plant and animal communities in many watercourses.

We are attempting to restore the original river beds and banks by rewilding these adjusted river courses. For us, this is more than just a compensatory measure. When we upgraded the Rhine Valley Railway in Baden-Württemberg, we improved conditions in the Elz, Kinzig, Dreisam and Schutter rivers and created species-appropriate habitats for fish whose numbers have declined, such as Atlantic salmon, chub, bleak and dace.

Fish ladders to help swimming

Fish like to return upstream to their habitual spawning grounds to lay their eggs. Often, however, their route is blocked by dams and waterfalls that were built in the past. To enable the fish once more to carry on with their natural migration, we build fish ladders in the water.

On one section of the Schutter, for example, we built a fish ladder that comprises several basins and thus has a reduced gradient. Now the fish can better overcome the height difference of more than a meter and species that are more vulnerable in currents can climb with ease.