Rivers and streams that have remained untouched and escaped any major changes to their natural shape (for example, with flood barriers, changing river channels, embankments, various alterations) and maintained crystal clear water are extremely rare in France and Europe
. They should all be protected
. However, the current regulations, mainly those stemming from the European Water Framework Directive, are not sufficient.
To counter the threats to wilderness rivers (notably from unsustainable hydroelectric power projects), a group was formed in 2007 at the initiative of the WWF and ERN France.
The Wild Rivers program has two cornerstone elements: the Wild Rivers Fund and the ERN, a certified association under the French Law of 1901, approved for the protection of wilderness areas and a partner of the WWF since 1989. ERN works with public agencies and manages the Wild Rivers propram, and the Wild Rivers Fund, intended to develop partnerships with businesses and raise private funds.