Fixing Europe's rivers

An EU research project has developed guidelines and tools to help restore Europe's river systems, in the face of multiple pressures on this important ecosystem.

Recent research shows that 40 % of European rivers are affected by hydropower, navigation, agriculture, flood protection measures and urban development. As a consequence, restoration of river hydrology and morphology has become a priority.

REFORM (Restoring rivers for effective catchment management) is an EU-funded project aimed at providing the guidance and tools needed for successful and cost-effective river restoration. It will achieve these objectives through research in the fields of hydrology, hydraulics, geomorphology, ecology, socioeconomics and water management.

REFORM has thus far reviewed existing information on river restoration and compiled relevant data sets. For instance, researchers are looking at medium-sized river catchments in order to compare the benefits of flagship restoration measures with normal restoration and control sites.

Researchers have completed a sampling protocol, which will provide standardised data for river restoration planning. They have also developed a protocol to benchmark restoration activities, with an emphasis on communication and information dissemination.

Much of the project has focused on the most effective ways to restore rivers. REFORM has found that flow rate in a river is a major indicator of river health, and that aquatic vegetation also plays a key role.

REFORM hopes to provide guidance to relevant EU directives to improve the conservation and restoration of rivers as sustainable ecosystems. The management of groundwater, floods, energy from renewable resources and agriculture will benefit from this knowledge.

last modification: 2015-12-09

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