Naturally functioning freshwater bodies provide high water quality, support threatened biodiversity, provide opportunities for recreational activities, support human wellbeing as part of blue-green infrastructure, help limit and control flooding, transport nutrients to agricultural soils in floodplains and can support freshwater fisheries.

There are some 8,000 water bodies in England and Wales – or about 100 principal catchments.  Protecting and restoring these freshwater ecosystems can involve a range of improvements, such as re-meandering rivers, and restoring wetlands and small water bodies, such as ponds, across catchments.  The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) is an inclusive, civil society-led initiative that works in partnership with the Environment Agency, Natural England, Ofwat, Local Authorities, Water Companies, businesses and more to protect water environments, and is the main platform for delivering such improvements across catchments. Defra is also funding a number of river restoration projects under the landscape recovery scheme (part of ELMS), such as the Adur River Restoration project, and is expected to announce further projects in the next round of funding.

This POSTnote will summarise the evidence base for restoration measures for different freshwater habitat types (complimenting the recent POSTnote and POSTbrief on habitat restoration) and the outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystem service benefits such as natural flood management and water quality.

Work on this briefing will commence in mid-September 2023

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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