Wetlands International hosts European river restoration expert meeting

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On 13 and 14 November, Wetlands International – European Association hosted the gathering of the European and Dutch network of river restoration experts at its office in Ede, the Netherlands. The General Members Meeting of the European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR) on day one was followed by a mini-symposium and field trip on the second day. Participants exchanged practices of Water Framework Directive implementation in different European countries.

The ECRR has 16 member organisations across greater Europe including government agencies, topic centres and NGOs working in the field of river restoration. At the Members Meeting, the ECRR members discussed the past year’s activities, the network’s strategy and the workplan for the upcoming year. In 2018, Wetlands International and the ECRR joined forces in a collaborative workplan to enhance the RESTORE RiverWiki (a platform for promotion of river restoration projects), to evaluate the ECRR’s communication channels and define ways to further develop its brand identity and lastly, to support an ECRR submission to the European Commission’s Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive.

The symposium and field trip on day two were organised by the Dutch Foundation for Applied Water Research (STOWA). It was joined by members of the Dutch Community of Practice for Rivers and Streams. In the morning, participants from Finland and Norway presented practices of river connectivity and examples of how river restoration supports the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive. STOWA presented its publication on system analysis as a basis for river restoration. Having a better understanding of the factors influencing aquatic ecosystem functioning can help define policy goals and measures.

During the field trip, the group visited a project on small river restoration at the Renkums Beekdal. The water board explained how it had integrated ecological and heritage values during the restoration of the stream valley. The next stop along the Waal river showed a more technical solution for reconciling inland navigation and ecology in a large lowland river by the construction of a longitudinal training dam. The dam has been constructed as an experiment under the Room for the River Programme and currently its effects on biodiversity and morphology are being monitored.

The restored stream valley at Renkum