Physical restoration of rivers

Changes in the morphology of rivers are one of the main obstacles to achieving good ecological status of aquatic environments. This assessment led the European Commission to the launch of an action plan to safeguard Europe’s water resources: the Blueprint. It is thus necessary to launch operations to restore the hydromorphology of rivers, based on good ecological-engineering practices and managed by local entities.

 

Whether recreating meanders, replacing a river in its original bed, eliminating river bank protection, uncovering buried sections of rivers, etc., many projects to restore hydromorphological processes in rivers have been undertaken over the past few years and involved an array of stakeholders. These projects have multiple goals, including reducing flood risks, facilitating sediment transport, restoring continuity for aquatic species, reinstating hydraulic connections and habitats, improving water quality and living conditions, and creating recreational areas.

Monitoring and evaluation helps assess the environmental response and the ecological benefits of projects, improve knowledge and generally provide answers to the questions being asked about the project.

Publications providing technical information on river restoration and monitoring, and examples undertaken are available in the following sections:

 

 

Technical guidances and restoration examples

EN - AFB - 2017

This fact sheet presents the Mérantaise river project, which implemented different types of operations to meet the dual objective of flood mitigation and restoration of river continuity: weir removal, meandering, returning the river to its original bed, pond removal…

FR - Onema - 2011

The collection presents more than 80 examples of river hydromorphology restoration undertaken over the past 20 years throughout France. These actions aim to preserve river hydromorphology or to re-establish hydromorphological processes of rivers. The first part of this publication provides general guidance on river restoration project implementation.

EN - Onema - 2016

Continuing its work on collecting river hydromorphology restoration examples in France, Onema proposed 6 other projects to discover, concerning the Drac river, the Adour, the Bresle, the Iton, the Saône and the Scarpe rivers.

EN - Onema - 2011

Some of the river hydromorphology restoration examples undertaken over the past 20 years throughout France collected by Onema were translated in english. Two sheets providing general information on river restoration were also translated.

EN

This European initiative aims at connecting specialists, sharing knowledge, communicating and bringing experiences together in order to restore rivers by removing dams.

EN - Onema

Throughout France, Onema personnel have worked hard in favour of river continuity and provided local projects with their technical know-how. Few examples of the work in 2012 are presented in this page.

EN - PNR Morvan & Ballon des Vosges

This project, carried out in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, aimed at restoring the functionality of rivers and their connectivities in order to allow recovery of aquatic environment. Amongst other things, 5000 m of stream will be restored, and 25 small obstacles and 7 big obstacles will be transformed.

EN - Onema - 2014

A video introducing two outstanding projects restoring ecological continuity in France.

FR - PNR Périgord-Limousin

Led by the PNR Périgord-Limousin, this program is based on two main working areas: restoration of habitats on the Haute-Dronne, and reintroduction of Pearl Mussels. Restoration of river continuity on the main obstacles will allow in the medium term a restoration of a wild Trout population.

FR - Eaufrance

Feedbacks on river and wetland preservation or restoration actions, that could be sorted by river basin, type of operation or type of aquatic environment.

EN - 2016

This French-German project aims at continuing the stocking of Allis shad in the Rhine initiated in 2007 and maintaining and reestablish wild populations of this endangered fish. The actions related to the restoration of the French population include the study of the upstream migration at barriers and fishways and a review of international knowledge on the fishways most appropriate to the species.

FR - Agence de l'eau Artois-Picardie - 2013

This collection contains feedbacks of 40 river restoration operations conducted in the Artois-Picardie Basin from 2007 to 2012.

EN - 2015

The Atlantic Salmon Summit, organized in France in October 2015, gathered scientists, institutions, managers, industry, NGOs or leading experts around the future of salmon in the Rhine. Obstacles to be removed, challenges and issues, case studies or latest results of the research were discussed. Presentations, summaries and videos are available.

FR - Onema

Every Thursday, Onema website presents key facts regarding one or two examples of French river restoration projects.

EN - GWP & INBO - 2015

This handbook is aimed at practitioners involved in managing water resources and restoring ecosystems and, more broadly, anyone with an interest in these subjects. It includes, in particular, an overview of the key concepts and examples of ecosystem management.

FR - Agence de l'eau Seine-Normandie - 2007

Technical and reflection support for implementing river restoration projects.

 

Furthermore, France contributed during the last years in 2 major European projects about river restoration, each with different objectives: the RESTORE and the REFORM projects.

 

The RESTORE project ran between 2010 and 2013. It launched with six European partners working to share and promote information on the best and most effective means of carrying out river restoration in Europe. The overall mission of RESTORE was to encourage the restoration of European rivers towards a more natural state for increased ecological quality, flood risk reduction, and social and economic benefits.

RESTORE developed RiverWiki: an interactive database of over 500 case studies from across Europe with examples of restoration, mitigation, enhancement and rehabilitation which illustrate the multiple benefits that can be achieved through properly planned and executed projects.

 

The overall aim of the REFORM project is to provide a framework for improving the success of hydromorphological restoration measures to reach, in a cost-effective manner, target ecological status or potential of rivers.

To achieve this aim the REFORM consortium develops protocols and procedures to monitor the biological response to hydromorphological change with greater precision, to support the design of programmes of restoration and mitigation measures for the WFD and to integrate restoration better with socio-economic activities.

 

Monitoring and evaluation

 

EN

Hydromorphological monitoring of two French Alpine river restoration projects is detailed by the HyMoCARES Interreg project.

FR - Onema - 2010

On this website, some feedbacks on river or wetland restoration are available, containing a "monitoring" section.

FR - Onema - 2012

This sheet focuses on the benefits of monitoring and evaluating a restoration operation, the expected objectives of such actions, the principles for action and the steps to be taken.

FR

In France, dashboards are set up in some catchment areas. Providing indicators, these can be used as supports for monitoring: Charente Seudre, Bretagne