The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) calls for cost-effective measures to achieve a "good status" in all European ground, surface and coastal waters. Besides eutrophication, the degradation of hydro-morphology is the main reason for failing the WFD's objectives in Germany. In this paper , we conceptualize the interactive decision support process BASINFORM-M for finding proper locations for river restora tion. The method combines the recently proposed "stepping stone concept" from aquatic ecology with elements from cost-effectiveness analysis, multi-criteria analysis and participatory approaches. BASINFORM-M exemplifies a shift away from the isolated resto ration of single river reaches to wards a consideration of functional relationships within the whole river network. In doing so, it satisfies the WFD's requirement of considering cost-effectiveness without neglecting other important evaluation criteria.