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Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation (MERLIN)


To secure economic prosperity, human wellbeing and social peace, systemic transformative change of our society is imperative. Ecosystem restoration using nature-based solutions (NbS) is key to this change, in which freshwaters hold a pivotal role. The MERLIN project draws on successful freshwater restoration projects across Europe transforming them into beacons of innovation. Through collaborations with local communities and key economies, MERLIN will co-develop win–win solutions spearheading systemic economic, social and environmental change.

The MERLIN project commits to transformative ecosystem restoration, mainstreaming NbS for the urgent systemic change of our society. It learns from 17 case studies distributed in 15 European countries, as best-practice demonstrators in terms of innovative restoration measures types, governance and financing frameworks. The 17 case studies include: small streams and basins (7 case studies), large transboundary rivers (5 case studies),and peatlands and wetlands (5 case studies).

The project includes the MERLIN Academy on freshwater ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions, an online learning place that can be accessed by its registered users and that allows interactive learning options. The Academy will host a knowledge centre that will include short videos and animations, manuals and state-of-the-art guidance documents related to for example spatial configuration of restoration measures within a catchment, benefits of different restoration types on ecosystem services and biodiversity, design standards for certain nature-based solution restoration methods, synergies of nature-based solutions/restoration with various sectors, a governance framework for successful restoration as well as financing strategies for restoration on different spatial scales or sector-specific strategies for restoration synergies.



Project information


University of Duisburg-Essen (DE)


University of Duisburg-Essen (DE); Aqua Publica Europea (BE); Aarhus University (DK); Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (DE); University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (AT); Município de Ponte de Lima (PT); Connectology Unipessoal Limitada ; Stichting Deltares (NL); Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa. Departamento de Medio Ambiente y Obras Hidráulicas (ES); Direção-Geral de Agricultura e Desenvolvimento Rural (PT); Ecologic Institut (DE); Emschergenossenschaft (DE); Institutul National De Cercetare-Dezvoltare Pentru Geologie Si Geoecologie Marina-Geoecomar (RO); I-CATALIST,S.L. (ES); Catalan Institute for Water Research (ES); International Peatland Society (FI); Instituto Superior de Agronomia (PT); The James Hutton Institute (GB); Kampinos National Park (PL); Kishon river and drainage authority (IL); Scottish Natural Heritage (GB); Naturland - Verband für ökologischen Landbau e.V. (DE); Nature agency, Himmerland (DK); Balaton Limnological Research Institute (HU); Oppla (NL); Provinciaal Centrum voor Milieuonderzoek (BE); Rijkswaterstaat (NL); Schnee auf Moss Werbeagentur GmbH (AT); Swedish Forest Agency (SE); Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego w Warszawie (PL); Swedish University Of Agricultural Sciences (SE); Finnish Environment Institute (FI); Tapio (FI); Tel Aviv University (IL); Helmholtz - Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH - UFZ (DE); Universiteit Gent (BE); UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (GB); Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (ES); University of Stirling (GB); via donau - Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft mbH (AT); Wageningen Universiteit (AT); WWF Adria (HR); WWF Hungary (HU); WWF Romania (RO)


Reference information


Published in Climate-ADAPT Aug 02 2022   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

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