The new guidance document on Barrier Removal for River Restoration has been developed by the European Commission, with the support of Eleftheria Kampa (Ecologic Institute) as advisor. The guidance was developed to assist Member States in identifying and prioritising barriers that could be removed to help achieve the target of the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 to restore 25 000 km of rivers to be free-flowing.
One of the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 under the European Green Deal is the restoration of freshwater ecosystems and of the natural functions of rivers. This can be achieved by removing or adjusting river barriers that prevent the passage of migrating fish and by improving the flow of water and sediments, in support of the objectives of the Water Framework Directive. In this context, the Biodiversity Strategy set a target to restore at least 25 000 km of rivers into free flowing by 2030 through the removal of barriers and the restoration of floodplains and wetlands.
The new guidance aims to clarify the concept of free-flowing rivers and to develop a common understanding of how this target of the Biodiversity Strategy is linked to key EU policies on water and nature protection. It offers an overview of methods that can support the planning of barrier removal to restore river connectivity. It also identifies possible EU funding sources to finance the removal of barriers and the restoration of floodplains and wetlands.