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The future of European water management: Demonstration of a new WFD compliant framework to support sustainable management under multiple stress

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The Water Framework Directive (WFD), which is the most comprehensive instrument of EU water policy, is more relevant than ever. Sixty percent of Europe's surface water bodies still fail to achieve good ecological status and a multitude of new stressors continue to emerge. A sustained and wholehearted water management effort is therefore of highest priority. Here, we present a new biological assessment approach specifically designed to safeguard sustainable water management under multiple stress. The framework contains three independent elements: 1) an ecological assessment system based on community abundance and composition to quantify ecological status; 2) a diagnostic tool to identify cause(s) of ecological degradation; 3) a management platform to guide the choice of relevant mitigation measures for improvement of the ecological status. The proposed framework is fully compliant with the WFD and currently applied in the assessment of aquatic plant communities in Danish streams. Importantly, the approach presented is not restricted to specific taxonomic groups or ecosystem types but is an example of how a simple approach can bring the conceptual idea of the WFD – that community characteristics in unimpacted, type-specific water bodies should be the backbone in ecological assessments – into practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Biological assessment, Danish Stream Plant Index (DSPI), Expert view in a supervised classification model, Management under multiple stress, Water Framework Directive, Water policy, ECOLOGICAL STATUS, CLASSIFICATION, HABITATS, PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT

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