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Europe has many great rivers. The longest in the EU is the Danube, which flows through 9 countries starting from the Black forest in Germany and eventually entering the Black Sea in Romania. Rivers of central and western Europe include the Rhône and Po, which flow into the Mediterranean Sea, and the Loire, Seine, Rhine, and Elbe, which enter the Atlantic Ocean or the North Sea. The Odra (Oder) and Wisła (Vistula) flow north to the Baltic Sea.
Most of Europe’s rivers have undergone major physical changes over the last 200 years. They have been canalized, straightened, deepened, embanked, polluted and dammed etc... The rich alluvial floodplains associated with these rivers have also regressed dramatically to make way for agriculture and to prevent flooding. Yet despite these dramatic changes, fragments of the original riverine semi-natural habitats do still exist, providing a home for a particularly rich array of plants and animals that depend on these natural areas for their survival.
Many alluvial habitat types are now listed in the Habitats Directive and protected through the Natura 2000 network. However, because of their complex nature, their conservation and sustainable use requires an integrated management approach over the entire length of the river and catchment area.
The adoption in 2000 of the EU Water Framework Directive has introduced just such a legal mechanism for ensuring a strategic approach to river basin management across the different rivers of the EU irrespective of sectoral, administrative or national constraints and borders. These River Basin management plans will also take fully into account the provisions of the Habitats Directive.
Good practices examples:
The following are examples of different projects that have tackled various aspects of river management, often in a strategic fashion and in partnership with relevant stakeholders and authorities concerned. The Danube and its tributaries in particular offer many such examples.
1. Re-opening the Danube tributaries for the rare Danube salmon
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