EU – AMBER Project: An impact assessment of river barriers on EU Atlantic Salmon Conservation

Compass Informatics provides data management and geospatial analysis services to the EU AMBER project.

The Challenge

The AMBER project seeks to analyse and assess the barriers to stream connectivity across the EU that act as impediments to ecological restoration. The project seeks to apply adaptive management to the operations of barriers in European rivers. To do this, tools, models and analysis are required to support stakeholders such as hydropower companies and river managers to maximise benefits while minimising ecological impact. Across the EU, there are an estimated one million barriers across a complex and interconnected river system. Compass Informatics’ challenge was to consolidate all of the available data to assess connectivity, define different types of hydrological environments, locate barriers and assess the impact on Salmon catch reports over time.

The Solution

Our expert team provided geospatial analysis services to provide insights on a variety of themes impacting the conservation of Atlantic Salmon in the EU. Using  SQL, R programming and ArcGIS, the team merged multiple river networks from the estuary to sub-basin level to assess European river connectivity. An SQL database was developed to consolidate data regarding the existing and historical salmon population using rod catch reports from 2000-2019.

Areas of the network were attributed to identify areas with geographically proximate qualities, ecological quality scores, dendritic connectivity indices and the location of main river barriers.

Water temperature was attributed using previous global monthly levels (1981-2014) and modelled projections for 2020-2080.  These large raster datasets were processed and amalgamated with the appropriate river sections, creating climate change forecasts for individual river networks.

The data and GIS provides a foundation from which to further expand analysis and insights into fisheries populations and prioritised interventions where desired.