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New study reveals Europe’s rivers under pressure

February 6, 2012

Catalonian mountain stream. Image: Nuria Bonada

A new press release from the European Commission states that: “the largest investigation to date into the extent of human-induced pressure on European rivers concludes that around 80% of rivers are affected by water pollution, water removal for hydropower and irrigation, structural alterations and the impact of dams, with 12% suffering from impacts of all four“.

The journal article “Multiple human pressures and their spatial patterns in European running waters” published in Water and Environment Journal by Rafaela Schinegger and colleagues at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna assessed human pressures on freshwater ecosystems at 9330 riverine sites across 14 European countries.  The study is part of the EU EFI+ project and is designed to give a high-resolution, European-scale assessment of the human threats to river ecosystems as a means of supporting the European Water Framework Directive.

Human pressures on freshwater ecosystems are only likely to increase in the future, meaning this study is important in providing an ecological baseline for rivers to be appropriately managed in the future.  The findings will help allow vulnerable freshwater ecosystems to be identified, monitored and conserved under the river-basin system of management outlined by the Water Framework Directive.

You can read a summary of the paper through DG Environment or access the main paper at Water and Environment Journal.

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