Dams, weirs, pipes and different constructions create barriers in our rivers which prevent them from functioning naturally. Consequently, the ecosystems are altered and this affects the more sensitive species living in them (semi-aquatic mammals, such as the European mink or the desman, and fish, such as the Atlantic salmon), which find their distribution area reduced or fragmented. This forces the groups to reproduce among themselves, leading to genetic isolation which, in conjunction with other associated effects, weakens their ability to cope with other pressures and places the continuity of the species in danger.

In order to solve this situation, the different public bodies in charge of river management in the Basque Country and Navarre have decided that intervention with regard these obstacles should be adopted as their chief course of action. In addition to the work performed in this direction in each of the two communities, a number of cooperation projects have also been implemented, culminating in LIFE IREKIBAI.

General objective of IREKIBAI

To improve the conservation status of the river habitats and species of Community interest within the Natura 2000 sites located along the Bidasoa and Leitzaran river basins.

Specific objectives

To restore the rivers. To do this, either dams and weirs will be removed or fishways will be created so that fish can overcome these obstacles. On top of this, non-native invasive species which reduce the diversity of native wildlife will be controlled, restoration work will be carried out on damaged habitats and impacts will be corrected on those waterways deemed most convenient in terms of the cost of action and the benefits obtained.

To increase knowledge regarding river management and restoration.


To disseminate the results obtained from the project and raise public awareness regarding the environmental values and services provided by our rivers.