If the morphological and ecological functioning of the river is good, preservation actions could be implemented to maintain this status and avoid potential impacts, such a as: 


Delimitation of a mobility area

A mobility area is a “permitted” free space for the river to move within, in the spirit of restoring phenomena of natural regulation specific to the intrinsic dynamics of the watercourse.


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.

EN - Onema - 2010

This case study presents a project led on the Adour river for restoring Adour’s mobility area.


Land acquisition

Land acquisition of riparian zones consists in acquiring the riparian zone or signing an agreement with land owners to make its management easier.


FR - Onema - 2010

This exemple shows how land acquisition can help in re-establishing river dynamics

Legal protection

Legal protection is used to avoid negative impact of human activities on biodiversity. France has a wide range of tools for the protection of natural areas, which can be classified in different administrative levels. These include:

  • Biotope Protection Order: a regulatory protection tool that aims to conserve habitats, protected species or site of geological interest, in order to prevent their loss.
  • Regional Nature Park: a rural or peri-urban area whose natural, cultural and landscape value is outstanding but also vulnerable and threatened. A regional nature park is organised around a project designed to ensure its permanent protection with respect to its management and its economic and social development.
  • Natura 2000: Natura 2000 is Europe’s main ecological network, whose aim is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. The INPN database allows users to search Natura 2000 sites by regions, species, habitat code or site code. You can find more information on how the Natura 2000 network have been implemented in France on the Ministry of Ecology’s website.
  • River classification: see River classification section on the European Directive Implementation page.


EN - AFB - 2018

This book describes the current scientific, legal and operational situation as well as the progress already made and that required to fully take into account ecological damages.

FR - Onema - 2010

This fact sheet illustrates the role legal protections can play in protecting species.

Invasive species

With the increase in international exchanges, voluntary or accidental introductions of species have accelerated. Continental aquatic ecosystems are particularly concerned with these biological invasions. In addition to their effects on fauna, flora and more generally on the functioning of ecosystems, these introductions of species frequently have repercussions in terms of uses of the environments and sometimes on health (allergies). The economic consequences can also be substantial.

More information on the impact of invasive species and the way to manage them is available in the following documents:


EN - Onema - 2016

This two-volume publication gives detailed information about the management of invasive alien species (IAS) : legislation, regulation, actions and management issues in the first volume, a panorama of IAS management experiments in aquatic environements in the second volume.

EN - Onema - 2011

This document is a synthesis of the seminar organized by Onema and Cemagref in Paris on 12-14 October 2010 on the management of invasive species in aquatic environments (exotic crayfish, Japanese knotweed…).

EN - Onema - 2013

Report of a seminar organized in France on 19-20 June 2013, this document provides a description of present knowledge on invasive and native crayfish species in France, a better understanding of processes operating, the place of invasive crayfish in aquatic ecosystems and their effects on biodiversity, and lastly a presentation of management approaches investigated in the country.

Improvement of agricultural and forestry practices


Avoiding impacts on rivers also requires improvement of agricultural and forestry practices. Environmental-friendly practices (winter cover of soils, installation of hedges or grass buffer strips…), or a forest management plan adapted to aquatic environments are examples of what can be done to avoid pollution on rivers.

EN - AFB & Irstea - 2017

This guide presents information and data to assist in decision-making concerning buffer zones intended to preserve surface and groundwater from nonpoint-source pollution from farms.