The Rhine connects the Alps with the North Sea and thus also different ecological communities. However, in the course of time, different obstacles have arisen which impede the exchange of biocoenosis. One of the aims of the International Rhine Commission is to restore river continuity at these obstacles. Furthermore, work is going on to restore habitats so that migrating animals again dispose of good habitats and spawning areas.
When standing at one location along the river, the connection with river sections further upstream is not immediately evident. Those seeing a salmon in the Rhine estuary at the Haringvliet can hardly imagine the journey still ahead of him or the spawning area in Alsace he is aiming for. On the other hand, for those seeing a salmon migrating through the fish passage at Iffezheim it is difficult to conceive, how the very same fish could surmount the closure embankment.
Visitors’ centres have been established at different locations in the Rhine catchment explaining the river and measures taken in order to surmount obstacles. They often illustrate the connections between the upstream and downstream river sections. This may eventually be underpinned by connections with other visitors’ centres, for example by exhibiting pictures of the Iffezheim fish passage at the Haringvliet or vice versa.
This networking aims at improving links between visitors’ centres informing on water issues, in order to improve the information of the public on the importance of restoring habitats and ecological continuity (for fish and other species, including those figuring in the Habitats Directive). By means of a strategic concept and a growing network the public awareness of each location will be increased, at the same time pointing out that each project is part of a larger context.