CROSSLINK: Cross-habitat linkages between stream and riparian habitats

Last changed: 03 July 2023

CROSSLINK is a research project aiming at improved understanding of aquatic-terrestrial and longitudinal linkages in stream networks. These linkages are essential for sustaining biodiversity and key ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, flood mitigation, and freshwater provision. However, human activities such as agriculture and hydropower generation frequently degrade these coupled ecosystems. Therefore, the results of CROSSLINK will be used to optimize management of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and multiple human uses at the land-water interface.


Stream-riparian networks are key components of green and blue infrastructure (GBI) that underpin landscape integrity by transporting nutrients, regulating floods, buffering human impacts and supplying fresh water. Unfortunately, stream-riparian networks are also subject to multiple human pressures (e.g,. from hydropower and agriculture) that affect longitudinal and lateral connectivity, driving habitat and diversity losses, threatening ecosystem services, and causing stakeholder conflicts. Thus, there is a pressing need to understand the importance of connectivity within these networks, and to apply this understanding in managing stream-riparian GBI for both natural values and societal needs.

Project Aims


  1. evaluate how the extent, spatial arrangement, and connectivity of riparian-stream GBI affects biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, and resilience indicators in forested, urban and rural settings, and
  2. to produce an optimization framework capable of balancing multiple values, uses and needs with longer term adaptive capacity and resilience in riparian-stream GBI.

Case studies to be used in CROSSLINK

CROSSLINK will analyse existing data and policies on stream-riparian GBI and conduct extensive novel and spatially explicit field studies in four case-study basins:

  1. Norway (forested and urban stream reaches in the Oslo Fjord basin),
  2. Sweden (forested and agricultural stream reaches in the Lake Mälaren basin),
  3. Belgium (forested, agricultural and urban reaches in the Scheldt river basin), and
  4. Romania (forested and agricultural reaches in catchments of the Arges steppes).

Main activities

CROSSLINK will analyse existing data and conduct extensive novel and spatially explicit field studies. A portfolio of key ecosystem assets for stream-riparian networks will be constructed, comprising biodiversity, ecosystem processes and services, and flood protection and resilience properties. Relationships between the portfolio elements, spatial connectivity and human impacts are analysed and incorporated into an optimisation platform, which identifies spatial configurations and strategies for GBI that minimize management trade-offs and maximize multifunctionality.

Key outcomes of CROSSLINK

The explanatory power of these approaches is compared and contrasted, leading to identification and refinement of optimal connectivity measures at both local and whole network scales. Relationships between the portfolio elements and spatial connectivity and multiple human uses and impacts are analysed, and incorporated into an optimisation models which focus on identifying spatial configurations and strategies for GBI that minimize trade-offs in management while maximising multifunctionality from local to landscape scales.

The main findings from CROSSLINK, including optimal solutions for GBI planning, will be translated into a learning-based environment allowing stakeholder analysis of tradeoffs/synergies between multiple values/goals in the management and design of stream-riparian GBI.

Project partners involved in CROSSLINK


Crosslink, map of participants

Map of the participant countries in CROSSLINK. Yellow countries are those involved in data collection and analysis, whilst Germany in pink contributes an optimization framework for design of a multifunctional stream-riparian green-blue infrastracture.


Logotypes of Formas, Swedish EPA, UEFISCDI, The Research Council of Norway, Bundesamt für Bildung und Forschung and Biodiversa. Illustration.

CROSSLINK is funded through BiodivERsA, under the Horizon 2020 ERA-NET COFUND scheme.

Full project title: CROSSLINK - Understanding cross-habitat linkages between blue and green infrastructure to optimize management of biodiversity, ecosystem services and multiple human uses

Keywords: Riparian-stream, green-blue infrastructure, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, resilience, ecological connectivity, optimal solutions, portfolio, learning environment