The K Fishpaths cooperation project improved the living conditions of endangered migratory fish – 100 kilometres of new habitats were made available

The five-year cooperation project between WWF Finland and K Group to improve the living conditions of migratory fish was successful beyond expectations. The project represented a new type of collaboration for both parties. During the project, nearly 30 barriers in watercourses were removed that had previously prevented endangered migratory fish from accessing their spawning grounds. This made 100 kilometres of unobstructed habitats available for fish.

WWF Finland and K Group organised a total of 35 events to save migratory fish between 2017 and 2021. More than 1,000 volunteers participated in the events, along with more than 70 K-stores and K-retailers. The participants removed barriers to the spawning migration of fish, such as incorrectly installed culverts. The volunteers also built 300 spawning grounds for fish in different parts of Finland. Obstacles in rivers and streams created by humans are the main reason for the endangerment of trout, salmon and other migratory fish species.

“In cooperation with K Group, we succeeded in making an impactful effort to stop the loss of nature. For example, the replacement of incorrectly installed culverts helps endangered migratory fish in a concrete way,” says Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General of WWF Finland.

The cooperation project has produced results: new trout fry have been found during exploratory electrofishing and fry monitoring in the K Fishpaths sites in Imatra, Heinävesi and Vaalimaanjoki and in Kuninkoja in Turku, for example. In many locations, the K Fishpaths events have inspired local operators to continue the remediation of watercourses.

“Alongside the concrete achievements, the most delightful aspect of the K Fishpaths project has been the power of cooperation: we have brought together a large number of people to work towards a common goal. The willingness of K-retailers and volunteers to participate in the events has exceeded all our expectations,” says Matti Kalervo, Vice President for Corporate Sustainability at Kesko.

The slogan of the K Fishpaths cooperation project was “Spawning belongs to all”. Liisa Rohweder hopes that the cooperation will continue to inspire various parties to help migratory fish and river ecosystems. The events were made possible by support from landowners and local road management and water protection associations. Two culvert manufacturers, Pipelife Finland and Uponor, also participated by donating new, more fish-friendly culverts in cooperation with Onninen.

“The voluntary events have increased awareness of migratory fish and the causes of their endangerment, as well as offering solutions to rectify the situation. Here at WWF Finland, we will continue our work to protect migratory fish, and are encouraging others to join us. It has been wonderful to see how K Group and other companies have participated in protecting watercourses by providing practical solutions and support,” says Liisa Rohweder.

K Group will also continue its work to promote biodiversity through new projects.

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