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Objectives of this report

The EEA acknowledges the importance of the sustainable use of natural resources in urban areas and has recently issued reports on resource-efficiency in cities (EEA 2015a; 2015b; 2015c) as well as urban adaptation to climate change (EEA 2016a; EEA, 2012b). The EEA has also addressed the various perspectives and perceptions of quality of life in Europe’s cities and towns, thereby defining a vision for progress towards a more sustainable well-designed urban future (EEA, 2009, EEA 2015e).

In this context, the current report aims to:

-          Outline the ways European cities develop strategies and measures to cope with the key challenges they currently face for their inland surface waters (rivers and lakes).

-          Showcase specific measures, strategies and initiatives on river and lake restoration, flood protection, stormwater management and water quality improvements in cities across Europe which can serve as source of inspiration and lessons learned.

The report aims to reach a broad public and citizens across Europe and illustrate that river and lake restoration does not necessarily only take place far away from centres of human activity. On the contrary, river and lake restoration is feasible and even desirable within the towns and cities we live in.

In this sense, the use of the term restoration in this report is not limited to “a management process striving to re-establish the structure and function of ecosystems as closely as possible to the pre-disturbance conditions and functions”(Wagner et al., 2007). The term restoration is used more broadly to refer to activities that aim to improve the status of degraded waters, be it by improving water quality, by changing hydromorphological conditions (see and also to serve other needs and preferences of the urban population, i.e. multi-functionality.

This report does not seek to provide guidance on how to carry out urban river and lake restoration. The geographical and socio-economic context as well as the ecosystems potentially targeted by restoration projects in cities and towns may greatly vary. This means that restoration processes and methods cannot usually be implemented in the same way across different locations. Nevertheless, the report draws some key conclusions and lessons learned from good practice examples on river and lake restoration in selected European cities.

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