France - a new National Centre for River Restoration

After a weekend of devastating flooding here in the UK, we have again seen the impact of unprecedented rainfall events and the difficulties of trying to 'protect' towns and cities.  Managing our rivers and catchments better and restoring their ability to absorb extremes of climate will support the work done in vulnerable urban locations to manage their risk. Our sympathies go out to all those affected.

Last week, before the storms hit, I was invited to Paris to welcome the newest (14th) member of a group of 'National Centres' for river restoration, inspired by the UK RRC and others, and supported by the ECRR's European Network of River Restoration Centres, to which we belong.  RRC has been part of this group since inception in 1999, so it was an honour to be asked to represent this network and state what belonging to a wider European network brings to the UK, and what the French centre can learn from its counterparts (consisting of NGO's, National Research Institutes and Agencies).

The River Restoration Centre (RRC), the Italian Centre for River Restoration (CIRF), and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) all shared our support and our experiences of what role our organisations play in key areas of policy, practice and supporting our own national networks of individuals committed to integrated management of our river systems.  France already has a wealth of experience and information nationally, regionally and locally, but the ideal is to exchange this better and provide guidance and support to those less experienced, with the support of other approaches in other countries.

In Paris, this event took part at the same time as the COP21 meeting on climate change.  Climate, adaption and resilience formed a key part of the French NCRR launch discussions, incorporating working with natural processes, natural flood management and resilient ecosystems.  In the UK, as in wider Europe, what is still needed from all of us is to be better at clearly demonstrating the large-scale benefits of the work we do to support the decision makers who have to respond to these extreme events.


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