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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Ecological status or potential / Ecological status or potential (WFD 003) - Assessment DRAFT created Apr 2013

Ecological status or potential (WFD 003) - Assessment DRAFT created Apr 2013

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Tags:
transitional water | lakes | rivers | coastal water | water framework directive | water quality
DPSIR: State
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • WFD 003
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2004-2009
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: What is the ecological status or potential of European waters?

Key messages

  • More than half of the surface water bodies in Europe are reported to be in less than good ecological status or potential, and will need mitigation and/or restoration measures to meet the WFD objective. 

  • River water bodies and transitional waters are reported to have worse ecological status or potential than water bodies in lakes and coastal waters.

Distribution of ecological status or potential of classified rivers, lakes, coastal and transitional waters

Note: The figure shows percentage of the total number of classified water bodies (with total number given in brackets). See the indicator specification for more details

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Ecological status or potential is an expression of the quality of the structure and functioning of surface waters ecosystems. The main objective of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is that all surface waters should be in good or high ecological status by 2015.

The current status classification is the baseline from which the improvements objective of the WFD is measured. Overall, more than half (55 %) of the total number of classified surface water bodies in Europe are reported to have less than good ecological status/potential. All these water bodies thereby need management measures to restore their ecological status or potential to fulfil the WFD objective.

The number and percentage of water bodies in less than good ecological status or potential in different water categories is as follows (see also Fig. 1)

  • Rivers: 51 300 (56%) 
  • Lakes: 6 500 (44%) 
  • Transitional waters: 477 (67%) 
  • Coastal waters: 1172 (49%)

The main reason why lakes are in better condition than rivers is that about two thirds of the reported lake water bodies are in Sweden and Finland, where the population density and agricultural pressure is relatively low. However, also within EU Member States lakes are generally reported to have better status than rivers. The reason why the condition in transitional waters is so much worse than in coastal waters is related to their proximity to land based pollution sources and loads from the upstream river basins. Moreover, transitional waters are exposed to extensive hydromorphological pressures caused by land reclamation, erosion control, flood protection, as well as infrastructures like ports causing altered habitats in these water bodies.

Specific policy question: What is the ecological status or potential of waters in different parts of Europe?

Proportion of classified surface water bodies in different RBDs holding less than good ecological status or potential, for rivers and lakes (left panel) and for coastal and transitional waters (right panel)

Note: The figure shows percentage of the total number of classified water bodies. See the indicator specification for more details.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Ecological status or potential in rivers and lakes (Fig 2., left)

The worst ecological status or potential in river and lake water bodies are reported in north-western Europe such as River Basin Districts (RBDs) in Northern Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders), where more than 90% are reported to be in less than good ecological status or potential. Other problem areas are in Poland, Southern Germany, Czech Republic, Southern England, Northern France, Hungary, as well as several single RBDs in other Member States, where 70-90% of freshwater bodies are reported to be in less than good status or potential. The ecological conditions are reported to be slightly better in the southern part of Germany compared to the northern part, probably reflecting the more mountainous landscape with lower population density, less industry and relatively less agricultural activity in combination with higher precipitation and deeper lakes.  

The map also illustrates differences in ecological status or potential within single Member States. For example, ecological status is better in northern Finland and Sweden compared to the southern part of these countries. Similarly, the Scottish RBD; German Danube RBD and the Rhône RBD have better ecological status than the rest of the RBD’s in the United Kingdom, Germany and France, respectively.

Ecological status or potential in transitional and coastal waters (Fig 2., right)

For coastal and transitional waters, the worst areas where more than 90% of the water bodies are reported to have less than good ecological status are in the Baltic region (Denmark, Southern Sweden, a part of the Finnish coast, Lithuania, Poland and Germany) and in the Greater North Sea region (Denmark, north-western Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium (Flanders) and the south-eastern coast of UK). Also in the EU part of the Black Sea (Romania, Bulgaria) the situation is poor with more than 70% of classified water bodies reported to be in less than good ecological status or potential.

The best ecological status or potential in coastal and transitional waters in Europe are found in Scotland and around the Mediterranean islands of Greece and Cyprus, as well as in the French part of the Bay of Biscay, southern Portugal and in southern Italy. Here more than 90% of the coastal and transitional water bodies are reported to be in good or better ecological status or potential. The results reported from southern Italy are however quite uncertain, as the classified water bodies only constitute 10% of all the transitional and coastal water bodies. Other areas with high proportions of water bodies in high and good status is the French coast of Brittany, the southern tip of Greece and most of the Spanish coast, including the Balearic Islands.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Peter Kristensen

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2013 1.4.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100