Workshop report “Free-flowing rivers and restoration of river connectivity”

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The restoration of river connectivity is a key measure to fulfil the objectives of EU legislation on water and nature conservation. It is even more in the spotlight after the publication of the EU Nature Restoration Law proposal for the restoration of at least 25,000 km of ‘free-flowing rivers’. A workshop at the IS Rivers Conference in July 2022 sponsored by Wetlands International Europe explored this issue and produced the following report exploring what is a free-flowing river as defined by the EU target.

The workshop was organised in July 2022 by ECRR and its partners, including Wetlands International Europe and the Italian Centre for River Restoration. The development of concrete methods and tools to make the “free-flowing river” concept operational is still an open task and several questions requiring technical discussion were explored:

  • How do we compute the attainment of a “free-flowing” river (reach)?
  • How do we measure and assess longitudinal and lateral connectivity?
  • How to apply the concept of river functional unit to the different dimensions of
    connectivity? At what scale?
  • What are the available methods to prioritize the restoration connectivity and what
    remains to be improved?
  • What metrics would make up and cover a comprehensive prioritization approach?

Report on workshop “Free-flowing rivers and restoration of river connectivity: from theory to operational approaches”