Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

RISK-BASE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 36938
Funded under: FP6-SUSTDEV
Country: Netherlands

Applying an integrated initiative to river basins

European scientists have completed a study to improve management of our delicate and precious river basins, a significant part of the ecology and economy of Europe.
Applying an integrated initiative to river basins
A river basin is the banks, bottom and its connection with other land and watery habitats. An integrated approach to river basin management in any region is crucial to cover all areas under the influence of the water that ultimately drains into the sea. If management is from a hydrological perspective only, this gives a very limited scope. However, an integrated approach incorporates not only the water element but soil and silt that is affected by pollution, flooding and other factors on a river basin scale.

To organise all previous river basin research and apply it to a coordinated action, the EU-funded project ′Coordination action on risk based management of river basins′ (Riskbase) held meetings including an assembly and workshops. Project scientists used an existing Web-based exchange system for dissemination to involve as many stakeholders and contributors as possible.

For a river basin, detrimental influences are mainly agricultural and industrial pollution, products of hydraulic engineering for ship navigation, water supply and flood control. The risk-based proposal addressed one of the key problems encountered in river basin management – that rehabilitation of one system component frequently has a negative impact on other environmental factors.

Riskbase formulated the integrated approach by applying three main principles – adaptive management, using all possible information and participation of all stakeholders. Ecological considerations were balanced against economic benefits and a flexible management approach based on experience in system response helped to reduce uncertainties.

Planners, scientists and policy implementation agencies made up an interdisciplinary advisory Riskbase team provided input for the project. The main recommendation from the three-year study was to create a communication network from specific catchments to improve management and facilitate best practice implementation. Furthermore, they proposed that future research initiatives use an integrated approach from the start.

Riskbase also advised that there should be a relevant European initiative to strengthen its impact by increasing proposal acceptance. An effective integrated river basin management strategy, flexible and applicable to many areas in Europe, promises to have a huge impact on both the environment and economies. Overall, this will translate into a more competitive Europe with limited pollution and environmental disturbance.

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