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Intercomparison of Ecological Potential for Rivers

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© European Commission


Intercomparison of Ecological Potential for Rivers


Kampa, E., Rouillard, J., 2021. Intercomparison of ecological potential for Rivers. Berlin, Ecologic Institute.

The report "Intercomparison of Ecological Potential for Rivers" reviews and intercompares the methods used in European countries to define the ecological potential of river heavily modified water bodies. The report has been developed as part of an intercomparison exercise, which took place in the Water Framework Directive Common Implementation Strategy (WFD CIS) in 2019-2021.

The report presents and summarises the information provided by European countries on the application of steps of CIS Guidance no. 37 "Steps for defining and assessing ecological potential for improving comparability of Heavily Modified Water Bodies" in the 3rd River Basin Management Plans. The WG ECOSTAT of the WFD CIS has been consulted on the content and conclusions of the report.

In 2020-2021, work on developing methods for the ecological potential of rivers was still ongoing in many countries. In half of the countries, methods were developed and being used for the 3rd RBMPs. The other half of the countries were still in the phase of pilot testing their methods or even earlier stages of development.

This initial intercomparison of methods to define ecological potential for rivers was fruitful in uncovering the overall progress of countries in designing and implementing their national approaches. Results indicate a clear need to continue the intercomparison work and encourage more peer-to-peer exchanges between national experts, in order to ensure the development of comparable methods in line with the principles set out in CIS Guidance no. 37.

Similar reports co-authored by Ecologic Institute have been published on the intercomparison of ecological potential for lakes/reservoirs and on the intercomparison of ecological potential for transitional and coastal waters.


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The overall process of the intercomparison was supported and guided by the GEP core group: Martina Bussettini (Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Italy), Sebastian Döbbelt-Grüne (German Working Group on water issues of the Federal States and the Federal Government – LAWA,  Planungsbüro Koenzen, Germany), Wouter Van de Bund (Joint Research Center of the European Commission), Katarina Vartia (Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, Sweden), Jeanne Boughaba (DG ENV, European Commission), Jan Brooke (Navigation Task Group; Jan Brooke Environmental Consultant Ltd.)

We wish to thank all national experts who completed the  European Questionnaire on intercomparison of Ecological Potential of HMWB – Questionnaire A "Rivers". Their responses to the questionnaire served as the main source of information for this report.

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176 pp.
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Table of contents
rivers, ecological potential, river basin, heavily modified water bodies, Water Framework Directive, WFD, HMWB