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MERLIN all-partner meeting: bringing Europe’s freshwaters back to life

April 6, 2022
Front cover of the new MERLIN leaflet.

Last week, the MERLIN project held an all-partner meeting to discuss the progress made in the first six months of collaborative work.

MERLIN is a major environmental project which aims to mainstream freshwater restoration in Europe. Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 scheme, MERLIN will invest €10 million into restoring freshwater ecosystems across Europe in coming years.

Over 100 participants attended the virtual meeting over two days last week to hear talks from MERLIN Work Package leaders on project progress, and to take part in discussions on future plans.

In his introduction to the meeting, project leader Prof. Daniel Hering outlined some of the important steps already made in MERLIN. Prof. Hering described how discussions over monitoring the impact of freshwater restoration case studies have resulted in a MERLIN Monitoring Handbook. This document provides indicators for monitoring the outcomes of freshwater restoration, and how it can contribute towards EU Green Deal goals. The Handbook will be made available later this year to help support restoration practitioners.

Participants at the MERLIN all-partner meeting in March 2022.

“Six months into the project, the meeting provided clarity on our approaches to achieving MERLIN’s ambitious objectives”, says MERLIN co-ordinator Dr. Sebastian Birk. “One key focus of the meeting was to exchange ideas on the monitoring plans that will be implemented in the 17 restoration cases.

“Here, it became increasingly clear how the different targets of the Green Deal are addressed: How can we best measure the re-wetting of peatlands? How do we guarantee the inclusion of interested citizens? Over the coming months, the MERLIN case studies will set up their monitoring of restoration impacts”, Dr. Birk explains.

Communication and dissemination of the project’s goals was another key theme of the first six months. Prof. Hering highlighted the success of the MERLIN webinars, which offer free monthly discussions of important topics around restoration science, management and policy.

Project partners have also produced a leaflet outlining how MERLIN aims to support freshwater restoration as a means of mainstreaming nature-based solutions for more sustainable European societies. You can read it here in English, Spanish, Basque, Finnish, Hungarian, Polish and Portuguese.

Inside cover of the new MERLIN leaflet.

Highlighting the many benefits fostered by freshwater restoration is an important step in encouraging collaborations with multiple water users and stakeholders. Accordingly, MERLIN partners have held sector-specific round table meetings around issues such as drinking water supply and navigation.

“MERLIN has started dialogues with the insurance business and the navigation sector”, says Dr. Birk. “The first insights about co-benefits for nature and economy were shared during the project meeting.”

Work within MERLIN continues apace: you can keep up to date on the project website and social media.


This article is supported by the MERLIN project.

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