Guidelines for environmentally sound practices for cost-efficient practices for rehabilitation of water bodies

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Task 4.1: Analysis of existing guidelines and procedures (M09- M15): Lead Partner

As a first step in the development of guidelines, it is essential that existing guidelines on rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystems are reviewed to draw out and build on commonalities of protocols that are already in place. This will make the proposed guidelines more acceptable to the end-users and stakeholders and help guide decision on choice of optimal methods for rehabilitation of water bodies to meet WFD requirements for good ecological status or potential whilst enabling opportunities to mitigate or minimise impacts of extreme climatic events. Methodologies for assessing benefits versus costs will be reviewed to identify the most appropriate tools to aid decision making of cost efficient programmes of measures.

Task 4.2: Development of procedures for assessment of mitigation-remediation measures (M12- M21): Lead Partner

This task will derive the most efficient and environmentally and socially acceptable mitigation and rehabilitation measures for river and HMWB types throughout Europe as the basis for establishing the guidelines. Protocols will be established for assessing the impacts of pressures and measuring the benefits of rehabilitation strategies based on field surveys (derived from the proposed case studies or existing projects undertaken by the partners) combined with use of the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) or (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) remote sensing platform. LiDAR will allow enable rapid analysis geomorphological processes, altogether with riparian vegetation evolution and thus evaluate the interaction between vegetation and fluvial hydro-morphological dynamics. The tool will be used to:

  1. understand quantitatively what happens in a river affected by flow and sediment extraction, and channel dredging, banks maintenance and value of buffer zones
  2. predict quantitatively habitats degradation and its effects on biological component (ecological status)
  3. identify 'bottlenecks' in fluvial ecological (biological) functioning linked to hydro-morphological features
  4. propose restoration measures to mitigate those bottlenecks

The strength of this task is the identification impacted systems, analysis of measures to mitigate impacts of hydro-morphological pressures from across Europe, This will allow categorisation of comparable measures and tenable derivation of ecoregion and water type specific measures to be applied nationally. Ultimately the project will develop a portfolio of different complementary mitigation and rehabilitation measures for managers through the IWRM-net. The focus will be mainly on structural / morphological improvement of freshwater systems, while considering minimum flow problems, particularly through establishing environmental flow protocols, but due cognisance will be taken of social and economic implications of proposed measures. Deriving the most cost efficient mitigation measures is needed for HMWB and thus the project will make an important contribution to the GEP.

Task 4.3 - Development of Guidelines (M15- M24): Lead Partner: UHULL

The information and procedures developed within the above two tasks will form the basis for guidelines for environmentally sound and cost efficient practices for rehabilitation of degraded water r bodies of mechanisms for improving the ecological potential of heavily modified of artificial water bodies. A decision matrix will be developed to integrate the findings from the above studies into a protocol for deciding on the most appropriate programme of measures. This procedure will link the components derived within the other WPs but also draw on the considerable data available through national Agency sources. The objective will be to develop a generic framework of how rehabilitation affects habitat and biodiversity to embed in rehabilitation plans.

The guidelines will contain a series of modules relevant to managing river basins or parts thereof, including: (I) a strategy for implementation; (II) identification of sites for rehabilitation measures (III) evaluation of measures (IV)– identification of highly / most efficient mitigation measures (which is similar to the identification of essential structures / bottlenecks for riverine biota) (V) the steps to take prior to rehabilitation of water body, including application of the risk assessment strategy; (VI) the steps to take after deciding to proceed with a programme of measures; (VI) water body type-specific programmes of measures; (VII) procedures for undertaking economic analysis of proposals; (VIII) specific recommendations to target GEP in HMWBs; (IX) Integration into RBMPs.

As part of this exercise, a workshop will be organised to facilitate information exchange and discussion, to be documented through workshop reports. The guidelines will be prepared noting already existing guidelines and recommendations such as the FAO manuals on Rehabilitation of Rivers for Fish and the forthcoming Rehabilitation of Lakes for Fish (both edited by the Project Coordinator -I Cowx) or RSPB New Rivers and Wildlife Handbook, in collaboration with potential end users and stakeholders based on the information collated in the previous WPs.

A final scientific report with guidelines will be produced and published at the end of the project. All information on the programme of measures will also be prepared for dissemination through GOOGLE MAPS and WIKIPEDIA - GOOGLE EARTH as a means to give geographically access to the information whilst Wikipedia will allow international uptake of the methodologies and protocols.