Hydropower schemes are one of the biggest threats to the living river because they radically alter natural water flow. Unfortunately, they’re like zombies – just when you think you’ve seen the last of them, they come back from the dead!
From building coalitions and painstakingly gaining the trust of communities, to protesting and taking on hydropower in the courts, Lukas is a passionate advocate for the river.
Growing up in Rorschach on Lake Constance, Lukas’ love affair with the natural world began in childhood. With a naturalist father alive to the bounty of wild foraging, he was introduced to the culinary and medicinal delights of wild plants at an early age – marigold paste for bruises and arnica for infections – and long summers spent in or on the water shaped his adult passion for all things aquatic.
I get so much from being in nature – feeling its raw power and its healing qualities. Experiencing a river’s wild majesty in a kayak reminds me what I am fighting for.
Hearts and minds
Winning a landmark ruling in the Federal Court of Justice in 2016 is perhaps Lukas’ greatest achievement to date. Supporting floodplain restoration and preventing hydropower development around the Rhine-Glenner confluence – site of the nationally important Rhine Gorge – it sets a precedent for all hydro-affected floodplains in Switzerland.
It may be another generation before the Rhine runs free but Lukas’ vision of a wide free-flowing river, braided with vibrant alluvial islands, loved and shared by all, is irresistible.
Popular support for restoration amongst riverside communities is growing, and where hearts and minds lead, politics must surely follow.
How Lukas is contributing to MAVA's mission
Lukas’ campaigning with WWF Switzerland is an integral part of our partners’ work to reduce hydropower impacts and restore rivers in the Swiss Alps. Read more about MAVA’s action plan for this specific subject.