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Riparia-Ter - Recovery of riparian habitats of the Ter river

LIFE08 NAT/E/000072

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Jordi MUNELL GARCIA
Tel: +34 93 850 71 52
Fax: +34 93 851 50 25

Project description:


The quantity and quality of riparian habitats along the River Ter in Catalonia (Spain) has decreased in most areas of the river basin. In many places, only impoverished woodland habitats remain in a narrow belt along the river’s course. A key factor has been the loss of natural river dynamics following agricultural, urban or industrial development. Changing river morphology has most acutely affected habitats in temporal flooding areas, and in habitats containing lagoons, ponds and mature alluvial forests.


The main objective of the LIFE Riparia-Ter project was the recovery of riparian habitats of the River Ter, especially ‘Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa’ (Habitat 91E0*), ‘Salix alba and Populus alba galleries’ (92A0) and ‘Mediterranean temporary ponds’ (3170*). The actions were aimed at conserving the diversity of the existing vegetation and creating sustainable habitats, with complementary measures to manage development and organise access to avoid further habitat degradation by human activity.


The LIFE Riparia-Ter project was carried out by the Alba-Ter Consortium in four areas in the mid and lower stretches of the Ter river, which are included in the Natura 2000 network area ‘Riberes del Baix Ter’. The municipal councils of Bescanó, Sant Gregori, Salt, Girona and Jafre actively cooperated with the project. The main habitat restoration actions involved woodland management, the control of invasive species, and reforestation. During the course of the project, the coordinating beneficiary applied specific criteria to encourage vigorous, well-structured riparian woodlands. Native species typical of riverside habitats were given priority, especially those species that provide food, shelter or nesting sites for wildlife. The treatment of the woods and riverside communities also took into account the existing plant communities and their condition, the presence of dead wood and the presence of urban areas and infrastructures. Actions in alluvial forests in the four project areas included selective logging, tree thinning, scrub clearance, grazing management, and the control of exotic species.

Much of the project’s efforts were invested in controlling invasive alien species. An in-depth study assessed the most effective and economically-viable methods for managing invasive species, while actions were implemented to remove invasive species so that riverside habitats could recover. The main invasive species causing riparian habitat degradation were box elder (Acer negundo), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) and giant cane (Arundo donax). The project’s actions produced very good results, though it is a relatively costly management system that requires training and the commitment of personnel to guarantee success. The protocols developed for the control of invasive species are available on the project’s website.

In order to improve riparian woodlands, typical native riverside species were planted, such as black alder (Alnus glutinosa), narrow-leaved ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), white poplar (Populus alba), white willow (Salix alba), field elm (Ulmus minor) and elder (Sambucus nigra). More than 7 000 specimens of these trees were utilised by the project team, enabling them to recover areas that had previously been colonised by invasive species. Supplementary planting also encouraged denser growth in other deteriorated areas. It was necessary to obtain certified native seedlings, to guarantee optimum adaptability and survival, and these were collected in nearby areas. Around 500 students from local municipalities were involved with the tree planting activities.

The project’s activities led to the recovery of 75 ha of river forest habitats (91E0*, 92A0). Forest management and the control of invasive species also benefitted other habitat types in the area, such as holm oak woods (9340), pine woods (9540) and dry meadows (6220*). In total, actions were undertaken in an area of over 80 ha. One of the project’s main objectives was to restore seasonal flood zones, especially temporary Mediterranean lagoons and ponds. These are a very scarce habitat type, both locally and in European terms. The work undertaken to change the river’s morphology resulted in the recovery of six wetland areas on old branches of the River Ter, with a total surface area of 0.82 ha. Three ponds were created in Salt; another restored in the Quirze Marsh; and three further ponds were created around the Illa d’Avall in the municipality of Jafre. The restoration of temporary flood habitats has bought back characteristic vegetation (including halophyte plants) and wildlife (amphibians, invertebrates and marshland birds).

The LIFE project regulated public use of the restored areas, to help prevent habitat degradation and fragmentation, disturbance to wildlife and fly-tipping. Vehicular access was restricted in all four project areas, using wooden barriers and rocks to deter motorists. Two walking itineraries were created in the ‘Riberes del Baix Ter’ area, to raise awareness and encourage public access compatible with the protection of local habitats and heritage. The first route runs for approximately one km around the Illa de la Pilastra and has a wildlife observatory; while the second walk at Illa d’Avall runs for around 1.65 km. Information panels have been erected along these pathways and in the other project areas.

A project website ( was launched in 2010 to disseminate a wide range of relevant information; eight editions of the Riparia-Ter newsletter were published during the project; and thousands of leaflets have been distributed locally. Public awareness was also raised through meetings with schools, universities, environmental organisations and the general public (involved some 1 400 people); 77 guided tours around the areas (attended by 1 656 people); and through an itinerant exhibition (BiodiversiTER) displayed in 27 municipalities that highlighted the threat of invasive species.

The involvement of local people in tree planting, bird-ringing and other activities, including those initiated after a serious fire in the Illa d’Avall area in 2013, has helped facilitate the town councils’ willingness to continue participating in habitat restoration projects within the After-LIFE Conservation Plans.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater
Biodiversity issues - Invasive species


forest ecosystem‚  river‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Alcedo atthis   Ardea cinerea   Ardea purpurea   Egretta garzetta   Emys orbicularis   Ixobrychus minutus   Lutra lutra   Nycticorax nycticorax   

Target Habitat types

  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 92A0 - Salix alba and Populus alba galleries
  • 9340 - Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia forests
  • 9540 - Mediterranean pine forests with endemic Mesogean pines
  • 3170 - Mediterranean temporary ponds
  • 6220 - Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea

Natura 2000 sites

SCI ES5120011 Riberes del Baix Ter



Type of organisation Local authority
Description The coordinating beneficiary, the Consorci Alba-Ter (Alba-Ter Consortium), is a supramunicipal body that acts as the overall driving force of initiatives for the cohesion, preservation, sustainability and promotion of the entire area of the Ter River Basin. It has legal personality.
Partners Ajuntament de Bescanó, Spain Ajuntament de Girona, Spain Ajuntament de Salt, Spain


Project reference LIFE08 NAT/E/000072
Duration 01-JAN-2010 to 31-DEC -2013
Total budget 929,100.00 €
EU contribution 464,550.00 €
Project location Cataluña(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan (Catalan version)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (CAT/EN)
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version