The Water Framework Directive - A Directive for the Twenty-First Century?
Journal of Environmental Law, 2011
Posted: 27 Dec 2016
Date Written: 2011
This article addresses the Water Framework Directive and the legal norm of ‘good ecological status’, which refers to the structure and function of ecosystems. In terms of ecology, the concepts of good structure and function reflect a resilient ecosystem with a high level of adaptive capacity. However, the legal provisions of the Directive compromise this concept. The Directive’s approach assumes that by quantifying certain fixed biological elements it is possible to accurately assess the structure and function of ecosystems. This approach is highly contestable, and undermines the possibility of attaining the objective of ‘good ecological status’. To improve the possibility of achieving ‘good ecological status’, we emphasise the need to first redefine ‘high ecological status’ as a state wherein the ecosystems maintain themselves independently of management; secondly, that the hydrological regime be addressed when assessing the bodies of water; and, thirdly, that traits, rather than the current ‘quality elements’ be used as variables.
Keywords: EU Water Framework Directive, biological classification systems, biological quality elements, ecosystem services, traits, ecosystem management
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation