Results For Managers

For Managers:         Stakeholder Presentations        Policy Briefs       Newsletters BioFRESH/REFRESH Symposium

Go to> Management of:  Streams  Lakes   Wetlands  Integrated Catchment Modelling  Socio-economic analysis

REFRESH had three primary goals;

1. to increase our understanding of how freshwater ecosystems will respond to the environmental changes driven by climate, land use, water use and pollution over the next 50-60 years.

2. to translate this knowledge into a form that can be used by water managers. This can then feed into the design of cost-effective restoration and management programmes that will account for the projected future impacts of climate, land use etc

3. To ensure uptake of REFRESH results by target stakeholders – water managers, conservation bodies, policy makers, policy implementers

Result from the scientific programme are highlighted in the results (embed link) section. Here we focus on the implication for management and policy of these results. There are links here to REFRESH presentations, to summaries highlighting the potential impacts of REFRESH for management and policy, to policy briefs, to REFRESH newsletters and to the output from a Science Policy Symposium held in Brussels towards the end of the project.


 Towards the end of the project we organised a two day dissemination event 'Freshwater management in a Changing World'. One day was given over to the implications of REFRESH results for management of climate and land use impacts on freshwater ecosystems (in particular, compliance with the Water Framework Directive). 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 number of REFRESGH scientist gave synthesis presentations covering the main component of the programmes. PDFs of these presentation can be accessed by clicking on the highlighted links. Video footage of the presentations are also available. The syntheses presentations are as follows;

Managing lakes in a changing world

Managing streams in a changing world

Managing wetlands in a changing world

Can modelling support integrated catchment management? – Dee Case study

Social and economic effects of improving water quality: sharing scientific and local knowledge and views-Thame case study


A number of policy briefs were produced towards the end of REFRESH highlighting policy relevant output from the project

 Policy Brief 1: Zooplankton-an integrative Biological Quality Element for assessing the Ecological Status of lakes
Summary: The EU Water Framework Directive environmental objectives are established on the basis of ecological status assessment, focused on five species groups (macroinvertebrates, fish, phytoplankton, macrophytes and phytobenthos). The assessments do not considering zooplankton. REFRESH has demonstrated that zooplankton is an important, integrative and cost-efficient indicator of the ecological quality of lakes and of recovery after restoration. We recommend that zooplankton metrics be included among mandatory biological quality elements for lakes as this will improve our capacity for lake management under future climate and land use changes.

Policy Brief 2: Riparian Forest can help mitigate climate warming effects in lowland temperate streams
Summary: Stream water temperature is predicted to increase with climate change, and will affect stream biotic assemblages and ecosystem functioning, threatening the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive and Biodiversity Strategy 2020. Results from the REFRESH project conducted in five lowland temperate streams show that the presence of riparian forest has a cooling effect ranging from 1°C to 3°C, depending on the reach length and canopy cover. River restoration by planting riparian trees, combined with open reaches allowing the presence of aquatic plants, can be a useful adaptation measure to combat the negative effects of future warmer temperatures on freshwater life.

Policy Brief 3: Stricter nutrient loading limits help lake ecosystems to withstand climate change pressures
Summary: Despite improvements in some regions, nutrient loading from agriculture remains a major pressure on Europe's freshwaters, resulting in widespread eutrophication. The main consequences of nutrient enrichment include excess phytoplankton growth, increased frequency of cyanobacteria blooms, and depletion of dissolved oxygen, all leading to a decline in water quality and biodiversity. REFRESH provides new evidence for climate change impacts on lakes, showing that increased lake temperatures generally have a eutrophication-like effect. As the impact of eutrophication and climate change follow the same pathways affecting nutrient availability and cascading effects in the food web, and given the high variability of both pressures, it is unlikely that their impacts can be disentangled in each particular case. A review of more than 450 climate change adaptation measures related to water carried out by the REFRESH concludes that all measures leading to reduced nutrient losses from agriculture can be considered win-win measures as they meet environmental objectives set by the Water Framework Directive and will enhance the resilience of lake ecosystems under future climate change.

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

REFRESH Newsletters

Three public REFRESH newsletters were produced summarising different aspects of the work programme

REFRESH Newsletter Spring 2014 - The final REFRESH newsletter focuses on the work done at the REFRESH demonstration catchments.

REFRESH Newsletter Winter 2013 - This newsletter focuses on REFRESH stakeholder activities and the key messages for mangers

REFRESH Newsletter Summer 2013 This newsletter provides a general introduction to the different approaches being used in the project.

REFRESH / BioFresh Science Policy Symposium

In 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