Revitalising ecosystems with the MERLIN project

Climate change, a serious threat to economic prosperity, human well-being and social stability, requires systemic, transformative change. The MERLIN project is committed to achieving this change through comprehensive ecosystem restoration, using nature-based solutions to address urgent societal transformation.

The MERLIN project features case studies in areas with wide rivers, streams, peatlands and wetlands. These case studies showcase how the successful restoration and management of the ecosystem, and the natural sequestration of carbon dioxide, can be replicated across Europe.

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

Integrated river management case study

Rijkswaterstaat, in close collaboration with Deltares, contributes to the project through the ‘Room for the Rhine branches’ case study. Using insights from the ‘Room for the River’ and the ‘Delta Works’, new regions are being developed where holms serve as floodplains. These efforts are being aligned to manage water storage, boost biodiversity, facilitate flexible land use and enhance recreation.

Aligning with Rijkswaterstaat’s key sustainability priorities

The project aligns with several of Rijkswaterstaat’s key priorities: sustainability, enhancing living environments and the implementation of the Environment and Planning Act. In the case study, at least 1 area is developed sustainably, with local communities playing an active role.

The project also aligns with ongoing rive work initiatives and the tasks of the Programmatic Approach to Great Waters and the Integrated River Management programme.

Project period

10-2021- 10-2025

European programme


Project website



University of Duisburg-Essen, Aqua Publica Europea, Aarhus University, Bundesanstalt fur Gewässerkunde, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Município de Ponte de Lima, Connectology Unipessoal Limitada, Deltares, Diputación Foral de GipuzkoaDepartamente de Medio Ambiente y Obras Hidráulicas, Direção-Geral de Agricultura e Desenvolvimento Rural, Ecologic Institut, Emschergenossenschaft, Institutul National De Cercetare-Dezvoltare Pentru Geologie Si Geoecologie Marina-Geoecomar S.L., I-CATALIST, Catalan Institute for Water Research, International Peatland Society, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, The James Hutton Institute, Kampinos National Park, Kishon river and drainage authority, NatureScot, Naturland - Verband für ökologischen Landbau e.V., Nature agency Himmerland, Balaton Limnological Research Institute, Oppla, Provinciaal Centrum voor Milieuonderzoek, Schnee auf Moss Werbeagentur GmbH, Swedish Forest Agency, Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego w Warszawie, Swedish University Of Agricultural Sciences, Finnish Environment Institute, Tapio, Tel Aviv University, Helmholtz - Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH, Universiteit Gent, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, University of Stirling, via donau - Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft mbH, Wageningen Universiteit, WWF Adria, WWF Hungary, WWF Romania, Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Empresa de Desenvolvimento e Infraestruturas do Alqueva, S.A.