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Understanding the economic and social value of ecosystem services in a river system can help prioritise river restoration projects. Currently, public administrations rarely consider river restoration projects as investments. Funding for restoring natural capital is substantially lower than the funding available to build and maintain built infrastructure. By reframing river restoration projects as restoration of natural capital it is possible to attract the financial resources needed to restore river systems and better integrate environmental and social values.

Hydrological, biogeochemical and ecological functions of river ecosystems provide a set of well-known ecosystem services. When ecosystems are maintained in good ecological condition, their ability to provide these services is greater, while the deterioration of aquatic ecosystems may reduce the viability of the provided services. Intact river ecosystems are more effective at processing nutrients, breaking down waste, filtering water and providing habitat for fish.

Note 6 Ecosystem Services and River Restoration