New European Commission guidance document on barrier removal for river restoration

January 19, 2022

In December of last year, the European Commission published a guidance document to help identify and prioritise where barriers could be removed to restore river connectivity, their wetlands, and floodplains. It is anticipated that this document will contribute to the achievement of the EC’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy’s targets.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 calls for the restoration of freshwater ecosystems to a near-natural state by removing obsolete barriers and restoring floodplains and wetlands. Through these methods, the Biodiversity Strategy aims to make at least 25,000 km of rivers free-flowing by 2030.

“The notion of ‘free-flowing rivers’ is not defined in the existing EU environmental legislation. Based on scientific definitions available, the Commission interprets ‘free-flowing rivers’ to mean rivers or other surface water bodies (e.g., lakes) that are not impaired by artificial barriers and not disconnected from their floodplain.”

The guidelines aim to clarify the interpretation of the targets within the EC’s Biodiversity Strategy, elaborate on the concept of free-flowing rivers and develop a collective understanding of how this target is linked to the other major objectives for river management.

 

Click here for more information.

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