Assessing the ecological status in the context of the European Water Framework Directive: where do we go now?

Yorick Reyjol, Christine Argillier, Wendy Bonne, Angel Borja, Anthonie D Buijse, Ana Cristina Cardoso, Martin Daufresne, Martin Kernan, Maria Teresa Ferreira, Sandra Poikane, Narcís Prat, Anne-Lyche Solheim, Stéphane Stroffek, Philippe Usseglio-Polatera, Bertrand Villeneuve, Wouter van de Bund
Science of the Total Environment 2014 November 1, 497-498: 332-344
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is now well established as the key management imperative in river basins across Europe. However, there remain significant concerns with the way WFD is implemented and there is now a need for water managers and scientists to communicate better in order to find solutions to these concerns. To address this, a Science-Policy Interface (SPI) activity was launched in 2010 led by Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and Onema (the French national agency for water and aquatic ecosystems), which provided an interactive forum to connect scientists and WFD end-users. One major aim of the SPI activity was to establish a list of the most crucial research and development needs for enhancing WFD implementation. This paper synthesises the recommendations from this event highlighting 10 priority issues relating to ecological status. For lakes, temporary streams and transitional and coastal waters, WFD implementation still suffers from a lack of WFD-compliant bioassessment methods. For rivers, special attention is required to assess the ecological impacts of hydromorphological alterations on biological communities, notably those affecting river continuity and riparian covering. Spatial extrapolation tools are needed in order to evaluate ecological status for water bodies for which no data are available. The need for more functional bioassessment tools as complements to usual WFD-compliant tools, and to connect clearly good ecological state, biodiversity and ecosystem services when implementing WFD were also identified as crucial issues.

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