EFTTA has been one of the driving forces behind an ambitious project to protect unspoilt rivers across Europe. It was the first private partner of Wild Rivers, a project to identify and maintain rivers and waterways in the region which are pristine and have remained untouched by any major changes to their environment.
Created in France in 2016 the certified site network has been extended to include 23 watercourses across the country. The aim is to create a group of stakeholders, including fishermen, involved in the regions to enable them to exchange their knowledge and experience to form a strong influential group.
In 2017 it received funding from the French Agency for Biodiversity to extend the labelling of sites across Europe and this has been boosted by further financial support from EFTTA.
This year the project is looking to extend its European network initially in Switzerland, Spain and Ireland, involving three or four rivers.
"We don't know how many rivers across Europe are suitable for Wild River status," said Denis Caudron, coordinator of the scheme. "We have to identify them in conjunction with the authorities in charge of the protection of rivers. A screening process is then conducted with our partners in each country.
"In order to obtain Wild River status it is necessary to implement a programme of conservation actions stretching over several years, to guarantee its long-term protection. This has to be monitored by the status committee."