New European Green Deal project launched to lead largescale restoration of European wetlands

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WaterLANDS (Water-based solutions for carbon storage, people and wilderness) is an ambitious, largescale project to restore wetland sites across Europe which have been decimated by human activity and lay the foundations for scalable protection across much wider areas. It has received €23 million of funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Programme Green Deal and includes the development of 15 Knowledge Sites and sixAction Sites. 

iCASP is a key research partner in the project which will build on our collaborative approach with a wide range of communities and organisations involved in the restoration of peatlands across the region and support them to deliver major advances in wetland restoration.

Wetlands are home to 40% of the world’s species and comprise of diverse ecosystems including peatlands, fens, riparian marshes and coastal estuaries.

They also store and capture carbon, remove environmental pollutants, and protect communities from flooding.

Europe has already lost up to 90% of its original wetlands (Swamps, marshes, peatlands, floodplains and ponds) resulting in massive biodiversity loss, water and food shortages, devastating floods and fires, coastal subsidence and erosion. 

Previous attempts at wetland restoration have often been too localised or too fragmented to make a significant difference to the re-establishment of wetland ecosystems and species. 

WaterLANDS will undertake hands-on restoration of specific wetland sites, covering an initial 10,500 ha, and create best practice models that can be applied to other sites. By engaging with local communities and stakeholders, the project will ensure that wetland restoration results not only in environmental gains, but also social and economic benefits for the communities involved. 


The 5-year project is led by Dr Craig Bullock, WaterLANDS project coordinator and Research Fellow in Planning and Environmental Policy at University College Dublin. It brings together 31 other organisations from research, industry, government and non-profit sectors in 14 European countries. 

Professor Joseph Holden, director of iCASP and water@leeds,

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega, social sciences project lead for Water@Leeds, at University of Leeds,

Professor Andy Baird, Professor Lee Brown, Professor Pippa Chapman, Dr Paul Morris, at University of Leeds

Dr Richard Grayson, iCASP Impact Translation Fellow , Catherine Seal, iCASP communications officer, Melanie Stonard, iCASP programme administrator

WaterLANDS Site Network Map


UK team to restore peatland in the UK, working with our Great North Bog partners, & throughout Europe features in our Autumn newsletter. You can have a here and and sign up for our next one.

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WaterLANDS project is spotlighted by the Global Peatlands Initiative GP3 press campaign

waterLANDS, ‘A European project to restore wetlands‘ – An article by Nicolas Dale Leal in the Spanish publication El Ágora. Featuring an interview by co-coordinator Shane Mc Guinness who explains how to achieve large-scale ecological restoration, why wetlands are essential for mitigating climate change, and the importance of creating a legacy for wetland restoration.

WaterLANDS Team

Professor Joseph Holden
Professor Joseph Holden

Dr Richard Grayson
Action Site Lead

Professor Joseph Holden

Emma Prout
Admin Support

Professor Joseph Holden
Professor Joseph Holden

Dr Joshua Cohen
Engagement Lead

Professor Joseph Holden

Dr Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez
DataHub Support

Professor Joseph Holden

Catherine Seal
Communications Officer

Professor Joseph Holden

Dr Andy Brown

WaterLANDS website

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