Commission advises on how to select sites and finance the removal of obsolete barriers
As announced in the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, the Commission has developed a guidance document to help Member States identify and prioritize barriers that could be removed to help meet the target. of the biodiversity strategy to restore 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers, and in the identification of possible sources of funding. The Strategy proposes two main types of action to achieve this goal: the removal of barriers and the restoration of floodplains and wetlands.
Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Virginijus SinkeviÄius, noted:
The rivers of Europe are highly fragmented. Removing barriers to restore their natural flow and connectivity will help freshwater ecosystems to thrive and facilitate the migration of endangered species, such as sturgeon and European eel. Investing in healthy rivers will also bring many benefits related to ecosystem services, such as flood protection, water purification and recreational opportunities. We can now provide practical support to Member States on how to do this and how to finance such actions
The rivers, lakes and alluvial habitats of Europe are under immense pressure. The key pressures relate to fragmentation and hydromorphological changes, such as canalization, dam construction and riverbank strengthening. The biodiversity strategy calls for redoubled efforts to restore the natural functions of rivers, as well as for stepping up efforts to achieve the objectives of the Water Framework Directive. In addition, it aims to promote greater integration of efforts for the protection of EU waters and nature in order to achieve not only the objective of achieving good ecological status, but also the objective of restoration. habitats and species, in accordance with the European Green Pact.
The guidance document aims to clarify the concept of free-flowing rivers and to develop a common understanding of how this objective relates to the objectives of the Water Framework Directive and the Birds and Habitats Directives.
In addition, the document provides an overview of existing methods that could be adapted and used to support planning for the removal of barriers to restore river connectivity, and of existing EU funding tools that could be used to fund river conservation. removal of barriers and restoration of flood plains. and wetlands.
The EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030, adopted in May 2020, proposes ambitious EU actions and commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Europe and globally, in accordance with the European Green Deal.
The strategy aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, with a view to ensuring that by 2050 all the world’s ecosystems are restored, resilient and adequately protected. One of the objectives of the Biodiversity Strategy is the restoration of freshwater ecosystems. The Strategy calls for redoubled efforts to restore these ecosystems and the natural functions of rivers. In addition to calling for better implementation of existing freshwater legislation, the strategy sets the goal of restoring the free flow of at least 25,000 km of rivers by 2030, mainly by removing obsolete barriers and restoring floodplains and wetlands.