This document is focused on the structural features of rivers, on geomorphological and hydrological processes, and on river continuity. This document is focused on the structural features of rivers, on geomorphological and hydrological processes, and on river continuity. It provides guidance on the features and processes to be taken into account when characterizing and assessing the hydromorphology of rivers. The word ‘river’ is used as a generic term to describe flowing watercourses of all sizes, with the exception of artificial water bodies such as canals. The document is based on methods developed, tested, and compared in Europe, including the pan-European REFORM project (https://reformrivers.eu/). Its main aim is to improve the comparability of hydromorphological assessment methods, data processing and interpretation. It provides broad recommendations for the types of parameters that should be assessed, and the methods for doing this, within a framework that offers the flexibility to plan programmes of work that are affordable. Although this document does not constitute CIS guidance for the WFD, relevant references provided by the CIS expert group on hydromorphology have been included in the Bibliography.
Although it has particular importance for the WFD by providing guidance on assessing hydromorphological quality, this document has considerably wider scope for other applications. It does not attempt either to describe methods for defining high status for hydromorphology under the WFD, or to link broadscale hydromorphological classification to assessments of ecological status. In addition, while recognizing the important influence of hydromorphology on plant and animal ecology, no attempt is made to provide guidance in this area, but where the biota have an important influence on hydromorphology, these influences are included.
NOTE A case study illustrating the application of this document is given in Gurnell and Grabowski.