Welcome editorial by the REFORM Coordinator

Dear reader,

We are pleased to present the third REFORM newsletter to keep you informed on the progress of our project and other related developments. Of course, we always appreciate it when you forward our newsletter to interested colleagues.

Rivers have been very much in the news in recent weeks, due to the exceptionally high water levels in the Elbe and the Danube. It is clear that extreme weather events are the major causes of these floods, but these conditions were also intensified by a severely reduced room for rivers to store and discharge water and sediments. Thus, improved tuning of measure programmes for the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive is urgently needed. This is one of the important messages in Europe’s recent blueprint to safeguard its water resources, as well as a key point in the interview with Prof. Huib de Vriend featured in this newsletter.

I would like to update you on the progress of REFORM. On 26 and 27 February 2013, REFORM organised a stakeholder workshop in Brussels on hydromorphological degradation and river restoration. More than 100 participants attended the 2-day event, which provided a good overview of the main topics- hydromorphology and the ecological status of rivers. More information about the workshop’s outcome can be found in this newsletter. In the previous newsletter, I announced that all of our interim results would be made available within half a year. Regrettably, there was a slight delay to finalise some reports. These will be completed during the course of the summer and will serve as a valuable source of information to support the preparation of the upcoming river basin management plans. Four items in this newsletter already give you an impression what there is to come. These include the review of the programmes of measures of the river basin management plans, as well as the process-based hydromorphological framework and benchmarking protocol developed within REFORM. The review of the programmes of measures complements the EEA’s comprehensive analysis of the first river basin management plans. The HyMo framework helps to acknowledge the relevant processes at various spatial and temporal scales to support and guide the selection of appropriate restoration measures. Based on an inventory of many restoration studies, it is clear that only a small percentage of these properly define success. A selection of good examples formed the basis to design a benchmarking protocol for river restoration. Earlier this year, the REFORM WIKI was published online. It will serve as our main gateway to provide access to our results in a ‘digestible’ form through factsheets and background information. A short item in this newsletter introduces the REFORM WIKI.

Impressions of the REFORM stakeholder workshop (photos: Erik Mosselman)

The key person on river restoration and river studies in Europe featured in this newsletter is Prof. Huib de Vriend, the former scientific director of Deltares and member of REFORM’s internal quality assurance board. Huib de Vriend is a civil engineer by training, and he is very well informed on larger scale issues steering hydromorphological processes. At the same time, he emphasizes the need to balance the protection, restoration, and use of rivers illustrated by the room for rivers programme in the Netherlands.

The case study in this newsletter takes us to Austria. The River Drava (in German ‘Drau’) is one of the important tributaries of the Danube River. Significant restoration along the Drava has been accomplished with the financial support of the EU LIFE programme. The final contribution in our 3rd newsletter originates in Finland, where local stakeholders were interviewed for their opinion on the benefits of river restoration. This marks REFORM’s first socio-economic restoration survey, which will be repeated in the case studies in other catchments.

We hope that you enjoy reading our newsletter. If you have comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We also invite you to share your contribution, so please let us know if you would like to use our website or newsletter to announce an event or present a relevant study or report.

On behalf of the REFORM team,

Tom Buijse

REFORM Coordinator

p.s. If you do not yet receive our newsletter automatically and are interested, then please visit our home page (www.reformrivers.eu) where you can subscribe.

For further information: 

Dr. Tom Buijse