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ECOSysTem based REstoration And Management of boreal riverS

Reference: LIFE19 NAT/SE/000333 | Acronym: Ecostreams for LIFE



Rivers and streams in the boreal region are in general heavily affected by human activities. Rivers are impacted by measures to facilitate large-scale floating of timber, such as narrowing and channelizing of water courses (e.g. altering them to form straight channels), blocking of side channels, and removal of large in-stream boulders and dead wood. Commercial forestry is also detrimental to rivers; increased siltation, road crossings/construction and other activities such as clear-cutting of riparian forest have the most profound effects. In addition, old dams and dysfunctional road culverts (structures that normally allow water to flow underneath) reduce the possibility for fish, otters and other aquatic organisms to move freely in water systems.


The Ecostreams for LIFE project aims to improve the conservation and ecological status of several aquatic habitats and species in six Natura 2000 sites using a holistic, catchment approach. The habitats targeted are Fennoscandian natural rivers and water courses of plain to montane levels. The species comprise freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), Atlantic salmon (Salmosalar), otter (Lutra lutra), small liverwort (Scapania carinthiaca), noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) and sculpin (Cottus gobio).

The project will seek to achieve the improvements by restoring habitat quality, wetland and stream hydrology, and stream connectivity. As a result, it will contribute to implementation of the EU's Habitats and Water Framework directives.

Ecostreams for LIFEs other key objectives are to:

  • Enhance the ecosystem structure and function of boreal rivers to improve resilience to climate change;
  • Spread the projects results and experiences to regional, national and international actors in the field of river restoration;
  • Preserve and further develop aquatic ecosystem services, aiming at an inter-connection of conservation action with sustainable development of local green economies; and,
  • Improve knowledge and awareness of river ecology and Natura 2000-related values among stakeholders and the public. Specifically, to enhance "water friendly" forestry practices and to avoid unwanted introduction of invasive species (signal crayfish).


Expected results:

  • 140 km (more than 470 ha) of river sections restored, remediating the impact of historic timber floating. Increased heterogeneity of river channel geometry, reintroduction of boulders and gravel; - Increased total area wetted (around 5-10% of restored habitat), as water can expand from the natural riverbed and onto the floodplain; - Increased access of aquatic fauna to the entire floodplain at high flows; and - Organic matter (important for growth, density and diversity of aquatic invertebrates) to remain and be processed to a larger extent;
  • Almost 470 spawning grounds re-created for salmon and brown trout;
  • Migration barriers remediated at over 20 dams and almost 200 road culverts, opening nearly 850 km of streams for migration of aquatic fauna;
  • Increased number of salmon smolt (salmon that are getting ready to go out to sea) from around 34 000/year to 37 400/year at the end of the project and to 62 000/year when full recovery of the system occurs (in ca. 2040);
  • Greater population sizes and distribution of freshwater pearl mussels. Increase in total number of individuals to some 1.8 million (mainly juveniles) in reintroduction areas after the project. The project rivers will provide 300 ha of restored mussel habitat and thus the potential for 3 million new mussels to be established by the year 2050;
  • 10-20% increase in populations of otter;
  • Scapania species returned to restored dead wood habitats in the riparian zones, with 20 new populations at the end of the project;
  • Reduced risk of noble crayfish decline due to introduction of invasive alien species; and
  • Hydromorphological/connectivity impact remediated in more than 80 water bodies, followed by natural recovery.

    Reference: LIFE19 NAT/SE/000333
    Acronym: Ecostreams for LIFE
    Start Date: 01/01/2021
    End Date: 31/12/2027
    Total Eligible Budget: 16,693,347 €
    EU Contribution: 9,166,422 €


    Coordinating Beneficiary: County Administrative Board of Vsterbotten
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Storgatan 71 B, 901 86, Ume,
    Contact Person: Johanna Hägglund
    Email: Send Email
    Website: Visit Website

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    • Fish
    • Invertebrates
    • Water quality improvement
    • Freshwater
    • Ecological coherence


    • freshwater ecosystem
    • migratory species
    • river
    • biodiversity
    • forest management
    • river management


    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)


    • 3210 - Fennoscandian natural rivers
    • 3260 - Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation


    • Lutra lutra
    • Salmo salar
    • Astacus astacus
    • Scapania massalongii
    • Margaritifera margaritifera


    Code Name Type Version
    Ammerån SE0720359 SCI/SAC v.2021
    Hemlingsån SE0710153 SCI/SAC v.2021
    Åreälven SE0720286 SCI/SAC v.2021
    Öreälven SE0810434 SCI/SAC v.2021
    Moälven SE0710164 SCI/SAC v.2021
    Rörströmsälven (Jämtlands län) SE0720297 SCI/SAC v.2021