Published April 17, 2023 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Screening maps: Europe-wide maps of the needs and potentials to restore floodplains, rivers, and wetlands with a range of restoration measures

  • 1. University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
  • 3. Aarhus University, Aarhus , Denmark
  • 4. University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
  • 5. Higher Institute of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal


1. MERLIN produced a mapping exercise using European datasets on the status of freshwater habitats, freshwater-related species,
bird species, ecological state and pressures.
2. An innovative spatial aggregation of European river networks was developed to integrate all input data at the same resolution,
and discretizing Europe into River Restoration Units (R2Us) for small and large rivers, with wetlands integrated into R2Us.
3. River restoration needs throughout the EU were assessed by identifying R2Us that failed to abide by the Habitats and Water
Framework Directives.
4. Ecosystem Services (ES) assessment was made at the R2U level throughout the EU by combining information on 5 ES delivered
by freshwater ecosystems.
5. Limitations to restoration were evaluated at the R2U level using the Human Footprint Index as a proxy to restoration
6. Areas where restoration actions might be facilitated or passively enabled were determined by identifying the amount of
freshwater protected areas (N2K) by R2U.
7. Restoration potential of each R2U was determined as the combination of ES, restoration constraints, and restoration
8. Restoration needs and restoration potential were integrated to determine the R2Us in need of restoration that had the greater
potential to be restored.
9. This identification provides valuable insights for an upscaling analysis of restoration potential across the EU that serves to
effectively guide large-scale restoration, management, and conservation plans.



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MERLIN – Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation 101036337
European Commission