Session 2.2

Restoring river continuity in Europe together

In partnership with the JRC

‘River continuity’ is the possibility for water, sediments and aquatic fauna to circulate freely in different directions. Disrupting river continuity with manmade infrastructure alters natural connectivity and affects many ecological processes depending on it.

The issue is important, because freshwater ecosystems are one of the most affected types of ecosystems on earth, with dramatic decline in aquatic biodiversity and in sediment transport due to human pressures. Europe has the most fragmented rivers in the world with approximately one barrier every two kilometres of river.

The Water Framework Directive aims to achieve good status for all waters. This requires different actions to be put in place, including restoring river continuity. Progress has been made in terms of river protection and restoration, but the issue of continuity has not been tackled to the required extent. To help achieve these objectives, the EU Biodiversity Strategy sets specific targets for Member States to enhance efforts in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive regarding river restoration, and to restore at least 25 000 km of rivers to a free-flowing state by the removal of barriers.

This session will see speakers from different horizons present good practices, tools and instruments to restore river continuity, and discuss concrete solutions to help the EU reach its targets.


Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Department of BioSciences, Swansea University

Professor Kim Aarestrup, Section for Freshwater Fisheries Ecology, Technical University of Denmark


Quirin Schiermeier, German Correspodent, Nature Research Journal