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Onema takes part in implementing the national action PLAN FOR RIVER RESTORATION

River restoration is one of the conditions required to reach good water status by 2015. On 13 November, Chantal Jouanno, junior minister for ecology, announced a national action plan to restore the ecological continuity of rivers. Onema is now gearing up for this ambitious project and providing its know-how.

Restoration of the ecological continuity of rivers is a central element in the goals contract.

A national database on river obstacles in France
Onema is preparing a national inventory of obstacles on all French rivers. The data includes an assessment of the degree to which each obstacle blocks the movement of migratory species and sediment. This information is indispensable to reinforce current knowledge and determine work priorities for the 60 000 existing obstacles. The data will be housed in a national database on weirs and dams, called the reference database on river obstacles.

Stimulating research
An ambitious programme to restore ecological continuity requires new scientific knowledge and the development of new methods, notably a standardised method to evaluate the impact of structures on migratory and sediment flows, as well as innovative engineering techniques for river restoration. A number of questions must also be answered, notably concerning the best management practices to encourage sediment flow through structures. Onema encourages the scientific community and funds research work on all the above topics.

From diagnostics to technical support
To advance the cause of river diagnostics, the restoration of continuity and species preservation, Onema personnel provide structure owners with technical support to evaluate structure impacts, raise awareness on the need to undertake restoration efforts and advise on possible solutions. Confronted with the need to multiply initiatives and launch large-scale restoration efforts under cooperative conditions with all participants, Onema has started to organise seminars with its partners to raise awareness on different topics. For example, the "Working together for rivers and wetlands" seminar drew over 250 participants last November in Paris. The seminar on the Atlantic salmon brought together 150 people in October. Similarly, the seminar on SBMPs (sub-basin management plans) attracted 100 participants, including some 70 SBMP managers, last December in Limoges. Finally, a seminar on ecological-continuity aspects in the national eel-management plan was just held at the end of January. In addition, a technical manual on the physical restoration of rivers is currently being drafted by Onema, with the Ecology ministry and the Water agencies. The goal is to collect and widely disseminate feedback information from restoration projects.

Guidelines for policing activities
Work to establish a multi-year programme on the most disruptive obstacles for migratory fish lies at the heart of the national action plan. Onema personnel already carry out inspections on water use to achieve three goals, 1) ensure minimum flow rates downstream of dams, 2) check fishways, 3) maintain the hydromorphological characteristics of rives and spawning grounds.

The five points in the national action plan:
* enhance knowledge on weirs and dams,
* define work priorities for each river basin,
* revise the 9th programmes of the Water agencies and the goals contracts to free the funding required for work on 1 200 priority structures by 2012,
* ensure effective implementation of policing activities,
* assess the environmental benefits of the action carried out.

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