Rivers, lakes and coastal waters in good ecological condition support a wide range of habitats and biodiversity. Rivers and their fl oodplain wetlands are, however, amongst the most vulnerable and threatened ecosystems in Europe, due to the way they have been used and managed over past centuries. Against this background the European Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC)1 has been established to act as umbrella legislation for sustainable and ecologically sound water management treating river basins as a whole.