Policy Brief 4: Stronger need for maintaining environmental flow in streams in a changing climate

SciPol3Changes in bed and bank structure and modification of water flow are among the main threats to the ecological status of streams in Europe. Climate change impacts modify stream flow further. Experiments in REFRESH show that stream macroinvertebrates are vulnerable to spates 7 times greater than base flow and that ecosystems of natural streams are more resilient to multiple spates than those of semi-natural streams.  Aquatic macroinvertebrates sensitive to low flow disappear within days after the onset of stagnation and in eutrophic streams stagnation brings about oxygen depletion and an additional loss of macroinvertebrates with high oxygen requirements.  Pools remaining in temperate stream beds during droughts are not refugia for stream biota as is commonly believed. Storing water in the catchment is the principle measure to guarantee stable flow. Substrate variability can be managed by restoring stream morphology and creating retention basins.
Link: http://www.refresh.ucl.ac.uk/webfm_send/2261

REFRESH Newsletter Winter 2013

Refresh Newsletter Winter 2013The REFRESH newsletter (Winter 2013) is now available. Click here to download.

Science Policy Symposium for Freshwater Life “Water Lives: new scientific horizons for biodiversity and water policy"

Science Policy Symposium 2014In partnership with the EU FP7 project BioFresh, REFRESH organised a Science Policy Symposium for Freshwater Life with the aim of bringing together policy makers and stakeholders from the water, energy and conservation sector, NGOs, the scientific community and selected experts to discuss challenges in implementation of the 2020 Biodiversity strategy and the EU Water Framework Directive and to agree on recommendations for policy making and future research.  The scientific advances of BIOFRESH and REFRESH were presented (along with those of a number of other FP7 projects), and the implications of these for the freshwater management in the EU were discussed with the aim of highlighting clear recommendations for policy making. The Symposium sought to support the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy 2020 and the EU Water Framework Directive (and its potential revision) and to create synergies across them building on the best recent knowledge on the current and future status of freshwater ecosystems and their inherent biodiversity. REFRESH has increased understanding of freshwater ecosystem response to climate and land use change and develops tools to support adaptive management.

BIOFRESH delivered policy relevant data and results on the current status, trends, pressures and conservation priorities of freshwater biodiversity.
The symposium aligned key research findings with the needs of policy making and generate policy-relevant messages relating to:

  1. Conservation planning and management of freshwater biodiversity in the context of Green Infrastructure and Natura 2000.
  2. Future protected area networks considering environmental scenarios and policy targets
  3. Freshwater biodiversity data and information to contribute to recent activities in ecosystem assessments by JRC, EEA and the European Commission
  4. Achievements of WFD good ecological status under climate and land use change scenarios
  5. Interlinkages between biodiversity, water related policies and other policy sectors (e.g. energy, agriculture and cohesion) to infer recommendations on synergies for their implementation.

Copies of the presentations are available on the Symposium web site at

Video footage of these are available at

Two day REFRESH dissemination event, London 6th and 7th November, 2013.

London November 2013On Day 1, at the Royal College of Physicians, 120 delegates attended a REFRESH Science Symposium where a number of REFRESH scientists presented results from the project to a mixed audience drawn from both the scientific and user communities (the latter including water companies, consultancies, water managers, environmental legislators, conservation bodies, NGOs etc). Several summary presentations provided syntheses of different aspects of the work programme, focusing on streams, lakes, riparian wetlands, integrated modelling and socio-economic analyses. Each of these was followed by a more detailed presentation highlighting a key area of the work programme.

On Day 2 around 70 people attended the REFRESH UK Stakeholder Meeting where the focus was on the implications for management of climate and land use impacts on freshwater ecosystems (in particular, compliance with the Water Framework Directive). This was one of a series of four regional stakeholder workshops and the target audience included water managers, those tasked with revising the River Basin management Plans and conservation bodies interested in the management of freshwater ecosystems. A key component of this meeting was that a number of stakeholder with particular interest areas were given a platform to respond to the presentation from the REFRESH consortium having seen the these  in advance. The stakeholder presenters subsequently participated in a panel discussion which included questions from the audience.

PDFs of all presentations are available from the REFRESH web site. Both events were filmed and footage of each presentation can also be accessed.