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Hydraulic, sedimentological and ecological problems of multifunctional riparian forest management

Riparian forests are non-marketed natural resources. They offer habitats for plants and animals, flood retention and recreational areas. Sustainable, multifunctional management of riparian forests needs improved knowledge of the interaction of the hydraulic, sedimentological and ecological processes involved. These interactions were studied through field investigations, laboratory experiments and numerical modelling at different scales, with the intention of producing management guidelines for riparian forests.

The project aims included:
1) fieldwork directed at the flow field inside riparian forests, the roughness and sedimentation, and investigations on the effects of the vegetation on flow field and erosion processes by artificial flooding of a vegetated flume (Wien river)
2) laboratory work on the resistance of individual plants, the flow through riparian forests and the interface plane to the flow in the main channel
3) physical modelling to measure the resistance of single plants, interaction of vegetation and sediment transport, and work with a reduced model of the Wien river
4) numerical modelling using both a 3D- and 1D-model
5) ecological field studies on organic material retention, macroinvertebrate habitat studies and the ecological functionality of streams
6) riparian forest management studies on the interaction of fluvial processes and riparian forests
7) guidelines were produced for the optimisation of riparian forest management.

The 'Guidelines for Riparian Forest Management' were discussed with experts and end-users, and the draft is almost ready for publication. The output of riparian forest management studies was the direct input for these guidelines.
Several artificial floods engineered on the Wien River resulted in a large data set on vegetation resistance to floods. Another data set on the flow field, erosion and sedimentation within riparian forests was established for the Upper Rhine field site, and an ecological data set was compiled for the Fersina field site. Experimental data from laboratory experiments and physical modelling contributed to the explanation of the processes in riverbanks and floodplains. The analysis and evaluation of the data contributed to the guidelines produced.


Scientist responsible for the project

Malteserstrasse 74-100
12249 Berlin
Germany - DE

Phone: +49 30 838 70253
Fax: +49 30 838 70753


Project ID QLRT-1999-01229
Organisation Freie Universität Berlin - Institut für Geographische Wissenschaften
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 March 2000
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 930 000 €
Total EC contribution   930 000 €
Status Completed

The partners

  • Universität Karlsruhe - Institut für Wasserwirtschaft und Kulturtechnik, Germany - DE
  • Universität für Bodenkultur - Department of Soil Bioengineering and Landscape Construction, Austria - AT

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