Living River Lahn - Living River Lahn - one river, many interests

LIFE14 IPE/DE/000022

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Contact details:

Contact person: Markus Porth
Email: wasserundboden@umwelt.hessen.de

Project description:


The river Lahn is a tributary of the river Rhine. It has a catchment area of 5 931 km2 and is located in the German Federal States of Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. On its 240 km route to its confluence with the Rhine at Lahnstein, the river Lahn flows mainly through the central Hesse region. Currently, the ecological status and potential of the Lahn is rated as ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘bad’, according to WFD criteria. Furthermore, the ‘National report on the status of floodplains 2009’ of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety reports a ‘significantly modified’ to ‘heavily modified’ status of floodplains for the major part of the Lahn’s watercourse.

The lower part of the river Lahn (148 km) is designated as an inland waterway (Binnenschifffahrtsstraße), used for more than 100 years to transport goods. In recent years the transport volume has considerably decreased, however, leading to its categorisation as a waterway of minor importance. From an ecological and nature conservation point of view, this change offers a window of opportunity to restore the river into a more natural watercourse. To make this change possible, innovative and dialogue-orientated solutions and integrated investment plans, combining different funding sources, are necessary.


The main objective of the Living River Lahn project is to achieve a good ecological status/potential of surface waters in the catchment area of the Lahn through a comprehensive, synergistic, multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach. Another overall objective for the catchment area of the Lahn is to elaborate a “Lahn-Concept”, covering different thematic studies and an intensive dialogue with all stakeholders on how to manage the river as an inland waterway of minor importance for waterborne transport in combination with water-ecological and nature protection purposes.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Improve the ecological status of the Lahn and its tributaries (e.g. sediments, structural diversity, and removal of invasive alien species);
  • Identify sources of pollution and to improve the water quality of the Lahn and its tributaries;
  • Prepare and implement measures for linear ecological connectivity for different categories of barrages and weirs;
  • Investigate and improve structural diversity in river stretches with existing weirs;
  • Promote sustainable tourism by providing adequate infrastructure and guidance for leisure canoeing;
  • Investigate the options for the creation of retention areas along the river and improved ecosystem services;
  • Re-establish natural water regulation wherever possible;
  • Establish, conduct and maintain a dialogue-oriented process with different stakeholder groups;
  • Elaborate integrated pilot strategies and implementation plans on how to organise and finance inland waterways in order to achieve ‘good ecological status/potential’; and
  • Build up and strengthen new capacity within the authorities involved.

The idea is that the solutions proposed by the project can be transferred to several other rivers in Germany in similar situations. In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of around €27 million of complementary funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and national funds.



Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Water quality improvement
Water - River basin management


water resources management‚  river management‚  river

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Hessian Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Hessian Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection is the public body responsible for the coordination of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Hesse. Moreover, it is the representative to the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) regarding the WFD.
Partners Ministry for Environment, Agriculture, Nutrition, Viniculture and Forestry - Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany Waterways and Shipping Office Koblenz, Germany German Federal Institute of Hydrology Structural and Approval Directorate North, Germany Governmental Authority Gießen, Germany


Project reference LIFE14 IPE/DE/000022
Duration 01-DEC-2015 to 30-NOV -2025
Total budget 15,709,406.00 €
EU contribution 8,496,390.00 €
Project location Hessen(Deutschland)


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