On October 1, 2021, the MERLIN (Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation) project started seeking new, widely applicable solutions for restoring the functions of freshwater ecosystems, for example to improve flood retention and store carbon dioxide.
“One focus is on cooperation with industries that can benefit from restoration, for example agriculture, drinking water production and insurance companies,” explains Daniel Hering. The effects of the measures will be accounted economically and ecologically.
The project will be project coordinated by the UDE, and the European Union has provided 21 million Euros (24 million USD) of funding which will last until 2025.
MERLIN involves 44 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes, nature conservation organizations, Oppla, and stakeholders from business, government, and municipalities.
“Many social groups benefit from restoration, and it requires the contribution of many actors,” says Dr. Sebastian Birk of the UDE Aquatic Ecology Working Group. He coordinates MERLIN with Professor Hering.
10 million of the EU funding will go to 17 areas from Finland to Israel, where streams, rivers as well as bogs and wetlands are currently being restored to a near-natural state.
These major projects will be expanded and upscaled with EU funding and developed into European-wide models.
In Germany, the restoration of the Emscher River is one of the supported projects.
After the former dirty watercourse has already been cleaned and redesigned in a near-natural way at great expense, MERLIN is now contributing to the further upgrading of the watercourse environment.
“Restoration thus also contributes to improving the residential environment and creates local recreation areas,” says Birk.
One focus is on the creation and sustainable use of flowering meadows on the Emscher dikes.
Photo of Alexander River restoration project in Israel is by Storm Cunningham.