MERLIN newsletter Feb 2023

#03. Defining Optimisation Strategies for Freshwater Restoration

The MERLIN project works to improve freshwater restoration. Within MERLIN, 17 different study areas are used to identify context-specific and common aspects for optimising this restoration process. The study areas cover the range from peatlands and wetlands, small stream basins to the floodplains of large transboundary rivers. For this purpose, each case study has developed an optimisation plan. The combined results of these individual cases showed that it is possible to achieve multiple goals, such as protecting nature, preventing floods and drought, and reducing pollution. It also showed that cooperation with local communities and consideration of different perspectives are important for success. These findings will be used to guide rehabilitation work in the coming years.

Each MERLIN case study conducted a structured SWOT (Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats) analysis based on the potential applying nature-based solutions to achieve European Green Deal goals. The IUCN Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) criteria were used to assess this potential. The results of the SWOT analysis provide clear directions for optimising restoration efforts beyond current practice.

Restoration of freshwater ecosystems can bring multiple benefits, such as biodiversity protection, rewetting peatlands and floodplains, reduction of flood and drought risks and carbon sequestration. Making the most of these opportunities requires a multidisciplinary approach, with input from experts in socio-economic, policy and financial fields. In addition, monitoring and quantifying greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration potential in new restoration projects may be useful to link to carbon crediting schemes as a possible financial mechanism for restoration. Voluntary participation of landowners in land consolidation schemes is often necessary for large-scale restoration, and alternative financial mechanisms, such as payments for blue-green services, can help mitigate the drop in income for landowners.

The SWOT analysis and optimisation strategies are building blocks for the restoration measures that will be implemented within the project duration of MERLIN (Oct 2021 - Sept 2025). They also support the medium- and long-term plans to scale up restoration in the case study areas.


Download and read Deliverable D2.1 "Case study optimisation strategies" (18mb)

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