Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation

Europe's environment is in an alarming state, with climate change expected to further aggravate the situation. This poses severe threats to economic prosperity, human wellbeing and social peace – our society needs systemic transformative change.

Ecosystem restoration is key to this change, and freshwaters play an important role: the restoration of streams, rivers, peatlands and wetlands has a long tradition and offers an extensive knowledge base – freshwaters are ideal demonstrators of the necessary change.

The MERLIN project commits to transformative ecosystem restoration, mainstreaming Nature-based Solutions for the urgent systemic change of our society.

How could Europe restore its nature?

Final vote of the EU Parliament in early 2024

Early 2024, the European Parliament will take a final vote on the ‘Nature Restoration Law’ (NRL), a globally unique but hotly debated regulation that aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in Europe. An international team of scientists led by the University of Duisburg-Essen investigated the prospects of the new regulation. The article is published on 15 December in the Science Magazine.

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MERLIN webinars

The MERLIN project is offering a monthy webinar-series on (freshwater) restoration-related topics, which are open and free for anyone to join.

Next webinar #24: The webinar series is taking a summerbreak, we will be back in September.

More information & recordings of previous webinars

Videos, Podcasts & the Freshwater Blog

Listen to the MERLIN podcasts

The Freshwater Blog - the voice of aquatic life

MERLIN webinar recordings

Field visit case study #13: Sorraia floodplains (Portugal)

Bringing Europe's freshwater back to life

Introducing the MERLIN project

What MERLIN does

Demonstrating best-practice restoration

For 17 flagship restoration projects across Europe, MERLIN explores social, economic and environmental success factors, generating a blueprint for the proficient implementation of Nature-based Solutions suited for immediate replication.

With investing more than 10 million € in further hands-on upscaling measures, MERLIN upgrades these 17 projects into radiant beacons of innovation for the systemic change.

case studies

Upscaling into broader landscapes

MERLIN identifies landscapes with high potential and priority for transformative restoration, particularly focusing on essential ecosystem services, biodiversity targets, and climate change mitigation and adaption.

MERLIN illustrates environmental value chains as well as costs and benefits of Nature-based Solutions for selected European regions. This economic analysis demonstrates the opportunities for green business resulting from transformative restoration.

Engaging with investors and economic sectors

MERLIN delineates models for private investment into restoration alongside public funding, tailored to contexts specific for economic sectors and countries.

MERLIN’s initiatives maximize synergies across economic sectors, and transparently mediate trade-offs where necessary.

Win-win solutions to mainstream restoration

MERLIN closely collaborates with local communities and key economic sectors such as agriculture, water supply, navigation and insurance industry. Main focus is to co-develop win-win solutions spearheading systemic economic, social and environmental change.


MERLIN Marketplace and Academy

The MERLIN Marketplace connects restoration actors, offers restoration-related services, and brokers restoration financing. The MERLIN Academy multiplies the knowledge to mainstream freshwater restoration, addressing the community of practice, restoration project convenors, communities, investors and policy makers.
Academy & webinars

Partners in MERLIN

MERLIN is a ‘research and innovation action’ funded under the European Commission’s H2020 programme. MERLIN involves 46 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes, nature conservation organizations, and stakeholders from business, government, and municipalities.

Merlin partners

MERLIN is a "research and innovation action" funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement No 101036337.