Floodplain restoration is the process of fully or partially restoring a river's floodplain to its original conditions before having been affected by the construction of levees (dikes) and the draining of wetlands and marshes.

The objectives of restoring floodplains include the reduction of the incidence of floods, the provision of habitats for aquatic species, the improvement of water quality and the increased recharge of groundwater.


Road flooded intentionally in a polder on the Upper Rhine
Road flooded intentionally in a polder on the Upper Rhine


In Europe, very few schemes for restoring functional floodplains have been put in practice so far, despite a surge of interest in the topic among policy and research circles. One of the drivers for floodplain restoration is the EU Water Framework Directive. Early floodplain restoration schemes were undertaken in the mid-1990s in the Rheinvorland-Süd on the Upper Rhine, the Bourret on the Garonne, and as part of the Long Eau project in England. Ongoing schemes in 2007 include Lenzen on the Elbe, La Basse on the Seine and the Parrett Catchment Project in England.[1] On the Elbe River near Lenzen (Brandenburg), 420 hectares of floodplain were restored in order to prevent a recurrence of the Elbe floods of 2002. A total of 20 floodplain restoration projects on the Elbe River were envisaged after the 2002 floods, but only two have been implemented as of 2009 according to the environmental group de:BUND.[2]

United States

In the United States, examples of floodplain restoration can be found in the catchment area of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland,[3] in the Emiquon Preserve on the Illinois River,[4] in Charlotte, North Carolina [5] and along the Baraboo River in Wisconsin.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Moss, Timothy and Jochen Monstadt: Restoring Floodplains in Europe. Policy Contexts and Project Experiences, International Water Association 2008, ISBN 1-84339-090-6
  2. ^ (in German) Europäischer Wirtscchaftsdients Wasser und Abwasser Nr. 34, August 18, 2009:Internationale Kommission zum Schutz der Elbe:Elbe-Hochwasser wie 2002 nicht mehr möglich
  3. ^ Land Studies:Legacy Sediments and Floodplain Restoration Archived 2008-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "The Nature Conservancy Launches Landmark Floodplain Restoration at the Emiquon Preserve, May 2007". Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  5. ^ Floodplain Restoration in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County
  6. ^ Floodplain Rehabilitation along the Baraboo River Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine