Ecological Flows in Southern Europe: status and trends in non-perennial rivers

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Marianna Leone, Francesco Gentile, Antonio Lo Porto, Giovanni Francesco Ricci, Anna Maria De Girolamo


The concept of environmental flows (E-Flows) describes the streamflow that is necessary to maintain river ecosystems. Although a large number of methods have been developed, a delay was recorded in implementing E–Flows in non-perennial rivers. The general aim of the paper was to analyse the criticalities and the current state of implementation of the E-Flows in non-perennial rivers of southern Europe. The specific objectives were to analyse (i) the European Union (EU) and national legislation on E-Flows, and (ii) the methodologies currently adopted for setting E-Flows in non-perennial rivers in the EU Member States (MSs) of the Mediterranean Region (Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, France, Cyprus, and Malta). From the analysis of national legislations, it is possible to acknowledge a step forward toward regulatory unification at the European level, on the subject of E-Flows and more generally toward the protection of aquatic ecosystems. The definition of E-Flows, for most countries, has abandoned the idea of a regime of constant and minimal flow, but it recognizes the importance of the biological, and chemical-physical aspects connected to it. From the analysis of the E-Flows implementation through the review of the case studies, one can surmise that in non-perennial rivers the E-Flows science is still an emerging discipline. The limited availability of hydrological, hydraulic, and biological data as well as the restricted economic resources allocated for managing non-perennial rivers are the main causes of the delay in the E-Flows implementation in MSs. The results of the present study may contribute in setting an E-Flow regime in non-perennial rivers.



Biodiversity, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Studies, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Sustainability, Water Resource Management


ecological flows, non-perennial rivers, Mediterranean rivers, Legislation, flow regime


Published: 2023-05-16 18:26

Last Updated: 2023-05-17 01:26


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