RESTORE - RESTORE - Rivers: Engaging, Supporting and Transferring knOwledge for Restoration in Europe

LIFE09 INF/UK/000032

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Contact details:

Contact person: David BAXTER
Tel: +44 179344562
Email: David.baxter@environment-agency.gov.uk

Project description:


River ecosystems throughout Europe have been severely impacted by engineering projects for flood protection, navigation, water supply and hydroelectricity. It is estimated that less than 20% of Europe’s rivers and floodplains are in their natural state. Sustainable river restoration, which re-establishes ecosystems and their functions, serves to implement both the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive. River restoration at the local level aims to create and improve habitat conditions for key species; at regional level supports the Natura 2000 network; and across Europe can improve the entire ecological status of river basins. River restoration activities can play a crucial role in developing best practice for flood risk management, help implement the EU Floods Risks Directive, and can also assist with adaptation to climate change. However, river restoration effort is hindered by a lack of opportunities for sharing best practice and knowledge.


The RESTORE project addressed a shortcoming in knowledge transfer in Europe on river restoration activities. The project aimed to develop a network that linked policymakers, river basin planners, practitioners and experts, to share information and good practice on river restoration activities. RESTORE supported river restoration practices across Europe, built additional river restoration network capacity, and promoted effective river restoration knowledge transfer. The project sought to develop tools to promote knowledge transfer, so as to communicate key messages to target audiences. The ultimate objective was that the project’s database tools provide improved knowledge, which in turn supports more and better river restoration activity.


The RESTORE project’s main outputs were the development of the European river restoration website (www.restorerivers.eu), which is the main source of information on river restoration in Europe, and the RiverWiki, which contains information on over 500 river restoration case studies from 31 countries. These tools provide information and explanations of policy opportunities and constraints, the effectiveness of different restoration methods, design issues, and project costs and benefits. The project created the RiverWiki database using Open Source software, which relies on the collective effort of many users to create a comprehensive set of case studies. The project also exploited the opportunities offered by social media.

Although several river restoration networks already existed, the project established a wider European forum to support these and emerging networks. This helped identify the needs of networks and the barriers to effective operation and co-operation. To this end, the project organised a series of sector and policy events that addressed a range of themes. Project beneficiaries met with 2 000 river restoration practitioners during its events and reached a professional network of over 10 000 through the website and social media.

RESTORE built upon work started under two previous LIFE projects which had established the European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR). The RESTORE project worked closely with the ECRR to deliver its final international event, as part of the 5th European River Restoration Conference in 2013. The attendance of the Commissioner for the Environment at this final conference helped to endorse the project’s messages. The close link with ECRR will ensure that the project outputs will be maintained and updated post-LIFE through ECRR and the project partners.

A good practice guide 'Rivers by Design' was published for planners, developers and architects, to raise awareness of the potential to include river restoration in urban regeneration schemes. The layman's report 'River restoration - the art of the possible' describes the project actions; assesses key findings under the themes of how to do river restoration, flood risk management, spatial planning, economics, hydropower and habitats, fisheries and agriculture; and makes recommendations for how river restoration can be taken forward in Europe.

RESTORE recommendations included that, where appropriate, a move be made from small scale projects to larger river basin scale approaches that restore ecosystem functions; river restoration should be incorporated into all development and policy-making processes through green infrastructure, an integrated approach and knowledge-sharing; river restoration should offer multiple environmental, economic and social benefits; local communities should be engaged; capacity should be built by encouraging more networking and the sharing of best practice among key groups; more science-based information is needed on river basin characteristics and the cost/benefits of river restoration; and that monitoring should be a policy requirement.

The project’s outcomes have raised the profile of river restoration work with policy makers in Europe and, through reviews of policy drivers and case studies, have made a clear case for the benefits of river restoration. The project used a ‘benefits realisation methodology’ to identify the most desirable outcomes for particular river restoration projects. It has also raised public awareness of issues, for example, regarding flood plains as opposed to engineering solutions for river management, and highlighted the use of legislation to require hydropower companies to allow fish passages and to restore river morphology.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Water - River basin management


restoration measure‚  information network

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • COM(2012)673 -"A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources"
  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds - Birds Directive (codified version of Directive ...
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...
  • COM(2013) 249 final “Communication from the Commission on Green Infrastructure (GI) - Enhancing E ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Environment Agency for England &Wales
Type of organisation Public enterprise
Description The Environment Agency is the largest environmental regulator in Europe. It is responsible for the protection of the freshwater and marine environment and also leads on flood risk and management of water resources in England and Wales. It is the UK competent authority for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive and is responsible for the delivery of river basin management plans. The agency has significant experience in river restoration from planning through to design, implementation and monitoring.
Partners River Restoration Centre, United Kingdom Finnish Environment Institute, Finland Italian River Restoration Centre, Italy DLG Government Service for Land and Water Management, The Netherlands Wetlands International, The Netherlands


Project reference LIFE09 INF/UK/000032
Duration 01-SEP-2010 to 31-DEC -2013
Total budget 1,794,567.00 €
EU contribution 872,753.00 €
Project location Uusimaa(Finland Suomi) Veneto(Italia) Gelderland(Nederland) Utrecht(Nederland) East Midlands(United Kingdom) East Anglia(United Kingdom) North West (UK)(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Twitter page
Project web site - 2 Project's Riverwiki
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Rivers by Design : Rethinking development and riv ...
Publication: Layman report Report divulgativo non tecnico
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Dutch version)
Publication: Layman report Rapport de vulgarisation
Publication: Layman report Projektin loppuraportti
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link "Cumbria" (1'37)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version