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Sci Total Environ. 2013 Jun 1;454-455:490-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.03.037. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Intercalibrating classifications of ecological status: Europe's quest for common management objectives for aquatic ecosystems.

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Aquatic Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Universitätsstraße 5, 45141 Essen, Germany.


Halting and reversing the deterioration of aquatic ecosystems requires concerted action across state boundaries and administrative barriers. However, the achievement of common management objectives is jeopardised by different national quality targets and ambitions. The European Water Framework Directive requires that quality classifications are harmonised via an intercalibration exercise, ensuring a consistent level of ambition in the protection and restoration of surface water bodies across the Member States of the European Union. We outline the key principles of the intercalibration methodology, review the achievements of intercalibration and discuss its benefits and drawbacks. Less than half of the required intercalibration has been completed, mostly due to a lack of national assessment methods. The process has fostered a scientific debate on ecological classification with important implications for environmental management. Despite a significant level of statistical abstraction, intercalibration yielded a fundamental and unified vision of what constitutes good ecology across Europe, in principle ensuring greater parity in the funds invested to achieve good ecological status.

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