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European Freshwater Ecosystem Assessment

European Freshwater Ecosystem Assessment

Cross-walk between the Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive types, status and pressures

This report explores the possibility of linking Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Habitats Directive (HD) information by using WISE WFD information on types, ecological status, pressures and measures (EEA, 2012) and HD infor-mation on habitat types, conservation status and threats (EC, 2007). Among the authors are Ecologic Institute's Eleftheria Kampa and Ulf Stein. The report is available for download.

The findings may be used as input to the EEA Freshwater Ecosystem Assessment in 2015, and also for future European assessments of specific objectives, status and trends for various types of rivers and lakes after the reporting of the WFD 2nd RBMPs and the next HD article 17 reporting. The report also provides a basis for discussions of the potential and limitations for WFD and HD synergies in terms of monitoring programmes, assessment systems and measures to improve status.

Many national WFD types have high similarity and may be aggregated into 20 broad river types and 15 broad lake types based on altitude, size and geology (and mean depth for lakes). There is a reasonable match between these WFD broad types, the WFD Intercalibration common types and the HD freshwater habitat types, as well as EUNIS types for both rivers and lakes, with the exception of two very wide HD river habitats, the HD type 3260 rivers from plain to montane levels, and 3210 Fennoscandian rivers, as well as some very narrow HD and EUNIS types.

The WFD ecological status of rivers and lakes aggregated to broad types is best for water bodies in highland or mid-altitude areas with siliceous geology and worst for small water bodies in lowland areas with calcareous geology, which is consistent with the different pressure intensities. The large and deep lakes are mostly in good ecological status, while the large rivers are mostly in moderate or worse status.

The differences between WFD ecological status and pressures of rivers and lakes aggregated into the HD biogeographic regions show that water bodies in the Alpine and Boreal areas of Europe are in better status and have less pressures than those in other parts of Europe. Ecological status is better in water bodies associated with Natura 2000 sites than for all water bodies, both for rivers and for lakes.

Assessments of freshwater status and pressures reported under the WFD are mostly consistent with assessments of conservation status and threats reported under the Habitats Directive for WFD types that are comparable to HD freshwater habitats. Inconsistencies and mismatches are due to non-comparable types/habitats and/or to non-comparable assessment systems.

Multiple benefit measures for water management and nature protection are presented, such as removal of fish migration barriers and restoration of floodplains and riparian zones to restore habitats and enhance biodiversity, improve retention of water and reduce pollution pressures on rivers and downstream lakes and coastal waters.


ETC/ICM, 2015. European Freshwater Ecosystem Assessment: Cross-walk between the Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive types, status and pressures, ETC/ICM Technical Report 2/2015, Magdeburg: European Topic Centre on inland, coastal and marine waters, 176 pp. plus Annexes.

Anne Lyche Solheim (NIVA)
Jonas Persson (NIVA)
Kari Austnes (NIVA)
Jannicke Moe (NIVA)
Janos Feher
Sandra Poikane (Joint Research Centre)
Peter Kristensen (European Environment Agency)
Published In
ETC/ICM Technical Report
176 pp.
Project ID
916-08, 916-09
Table of Contents

Executive summary
Type comparisons across the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive
Water Framework Directive ecological status and pressures on water bodies aggregated to broad types of rivers and lakes and to Habitats Directive biogeographic regions
Comparisons of status and pressures/threats of Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive
Measures with mutual benefit for water management and nature protection
1 Introduction and objective
2 Methodology and approaches
3 Comparison of freshwater types of the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive
3.1 Existing typology systems
3.1.1 WFD national types of rivers and lakes
3.1.2 WFD intercalibration common types (IC types) (EC 2013)
3.1.3 Freshwater Habitat types from the Habitats Directive
3.1.4 Freshwater habitat types of the EUNIS habitats classification
3.2 Broad types of rivers and lakes for comparison of WFD and HD types
3.2.1 Conceptual preliminary identification of broad types
3.2.2 Top-down identification of broad river types using ECRINS
3.2.3 Broad types identification using groups of related national WFD types
3.3 Linking the various types of the WFD and HD
3.3.1 Approach
3.3.2 Results of the cross-walk on types
3.4 Additional aspects of WFD and HD type comparisons
3.4.1 Heavily modified and artificial water bodies (HMWBs and AWBs)
3.4.2 Small water bodies
4 WFD ecological status and pressures in broad freshwater types
4.1 Rivers
4.2 Lakes
5 WFD ecological status and pressures in HD biogeographic regions and in Natura 2000 sites
5.1 Ecological status of rivers and lakes in the HD biogeographic regions
5.2 WFD pressures aggregated to HD biogeographic regions
5.3 WFD Ecological status in river and lake water bodies associated with the Natura 2000 sites
6 Ecological status (WFD) and conservation status (HD) comparison for selected countries
6.1 Introduction to status comparisons
6.2 Comparing WFD and HD status of water bodies in selected countries
6.2.1 Example 1 – Sweden
6.2.2 Example 2 – Germany
6.2.3 Example 3 – Hungary
6.2.4 Example 4 – UK and France
6.2.5 Example 5 – Denmark
7 Pressures (WFD) & threats (HD) comparison for selected countries
7.1 Linking pressures under WFD and threats under HD
7.2 Main pressures affecting freshwater systems in Europe
7.3 Comparing the pressures under the WFD and HD for broad climatic/altitude types in four countries (DE, IE, SE and HU)
7.3.1 Background
7.3.2 Methods
7.3.3 Example 1 – Germany
7.3.4 Example 2 – Hungar
7.3.5 Example 3 – Ireland
7.3.6 Example 4 – Sweden
8 Conclusions on the WFD and HD comparison of types, status and pressures
8.1 Conclusions of the broad types definition and the cross-walk between the WFD and HD/EUNIS types
8.2 Conclusions of cross-walking of the WFD and HD status reporting
8.3 Conclusions of cross-walking the WFD and HD pressures reporting
9 Measures
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Key measures with joint benefits for water management and nature protection
9.3 Case studies illustrating joint benefits of measures
Annex 1 Glossary
Annex 2 List of national WFD types linked to broad types, sorted by broad type
6 European Freshwater Ecosystem Assessment: WFD and HD types, status, pressures
Annex 3 List of national WFD types linked to broad types, sorted by country
Annex 4 Ecological status and pressures in rivers and lakes for each country within each biogeographic region
Annex 5 Ecological status in rivers and lakes per broad type and country, for all WBs and for WBs associated with Natura2000 protected areas
Annex 6 WFD-HD comparison of pressures
Annex 7 National WFD national types sorted into broad altitude types and size for Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Hungary
Annex 8 Links between pressure types and freshwater habitats in Hungary

WFD, HD, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, UK, France, Denmark, Europe, case studies