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Enrichment of floristic diversity along German Federal Waterways

Scientists involved:

M.Sc. Julia Wollny, Dr. Sarah Harvolk-Schöning, Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. habil. agr. Annette Otte (JLU),

Dr. Lars Symmank, Dr. Andreas Sundermeier (Federal Institute of Hydrology),

Dr. Katharina Raupach, Prof. Dr. Rainer Marggraf (Georg-August-University Göttingen)


Project description

Waterways have been of high importance for humanity for hundreds of years, since they are serving e.g. as water source and transport medium for goods. Increasing global trade thus results not only in growing pressure for the waterways themselves, but also for the respective floodplains and their species diversity. Natural floodplains in particular provide a high habitat diversity and thereby a high species diversity. The small-scale habitat diversity is caused by dynamics in the water regime. Moreover, floodplains play a key role for the nutrient filtration and flood retention and thus provide relevant ecosystem functions. Through measures such as the installation of weirs and fixation of banks for an enhanced navigability along rivers, these habitats are changed fundamentally. However, the European Water Framework Directive purports the achievement of a good ecological state of the waterways and their respective floodplains. For that reason, restoration measures such as the removal of rip raps, the installation of shallow water zones and ecological bank protections are taken to grade up the respective areas for achieving the ecological requirements.


The main aim of this project is to explore the ecological effects of the taken measures along federal waterways and to compare them to decide which is the most effective. For that reason, selected measures from different areas in Germany will be registered and analysed in their vegetation structure and composition. The results of this investigation should help the Federal Waterways Administration to decide which measures might be preferred and applied in the future.

With respect to the strategy “Blaues Band” it should be further investigated how the measures will develop when certain waterway stretches are not managed anymore and whether a near-natural state can be achieved (for more information see: The research project should contribute to an improved ecological understanding of habitats along federal waterways to apply landscape management measures more efficiently.


The project is carried out by the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG), the department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of Georg-August-University Göttingen and the division of Landscape Ecology and Landscape Planning of Justus-Liebig-University Gießen.


Funding: Federal Institute of Hydrology (2015-2018)