Environmental Management

, Volume 60, Issue 5, pp 931–946 | Cite as

Diverse Approaches to Implement and Monitor River Restoration: A Comparative Perspective in France and Germany

  • Bertrand MorandiEmail author
  • Jochem Kail
  • Anne Toedter
  • Christian Wolter
  • Hervé Piégay


River restoration is a main emphasis of river management in European countries. Cross-national comparisons of its implementation are still rare in scientific literature. Based on French and German national censuses, this study compares river restoration practices and monitoring by analysing 102 French and 270 German projects. This comparison aims to draw a spatial and temporal framework of restoration practices in both countries to identify potential drivers of cross-national similarities and differences. The results underline four major trends: (1) a lag of almost 15 years in river restoration implementation between France and Germany, with a consequently higher share of projects in Germany than in France, (2) substantial similarities in restored reach characteristics, short reach length, small rivers, and in “agricultural” areas, (3) good correspondences between stressors identified and restoration measures implemented. Morphological alterations were the most important highlighted stressors. River morphology enhancement, especially instream enhancements, were the most frequently implemented restoration measures. Some differences exist in specific restoration practices, as river continuity restoration were most frequently implemented in French projects, while large wood introduction or channel re-braiding were most frequently implemented in German projects, and (4) some quantitative and qualitative differences in monitoring practices and a significant lack of project monitoring, especially in Germany compared to France. These similarities and differences between Germany and France in restoration application and monitoring possibly result from a complex set of drivers that might be difficult to untangle (e.g., environmental, technical, political, cultural).


River restoration Project monitoring Hydromorphologic alteration Mitigation measures France Germany 



This study was supported by the IWRM-Net project FORECASTER (German BMBF grant # 02WM1031) and the EU FP7 project REFORM (Grant Agreement No. 282656). The authors acknowledge the French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA) for financial and scientific support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

267_2017_923_MOESM1_ESM.gif (133 kb)
Supplementary FigureS3
267_2017_923_MOESM2_ESM.gif (84 kb)
Supplementary FigureS4
267_2017_923_MOESM3_ESM.doc (68 kb)
Supplementary TableS1
267_2017_923_MOESM4_ESM.doc (96 kb)
Supplementary TableS2


  1. Arnaud F, Piégay H, Schmitt L, Rollet AJ, Ferrier V, Béal D (2015) Historical geomorphic analysis (1932–2011) of a by-passed river reach in process-based restoration perspectives: The Old Rhine downstream of the Kembs diversion dam (France, Germany). Geomorphology 236:163–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auerbach DA, Deisenroth DB, McShane RR, McCluney KE, LeRoy Poff N (2014) Beyond the concrete: Accounting for ecosystem services from free-flowing rivers. Ecosyst Serv 10:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baron JS, LeRoy Poff N, Angermeier PL, Dahm CN, Gleick PH, Hairston NG, Jackson RB, Johnston CA, Richter BD, Steinman AD (2002) Meeting ecological and societal needs for freshwater. Ecol Appl 12(5):1247–1260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bednarek AT (2001) Undamming rivers: A review of the ecological impacts of dam removal. Environ Manage 27(6):803–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernhardt ES, Palmer MA (2011) River restoration - the fuzzy logic of repairing reaches to reverse watershed scale degradation. Ecol Appl 21:1926–1931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bernhardt ES, Palmer MA, Allan JD, Abell R, Alexander G, Brooks S, Carr J, Clayton S, Dahm C, Follstad Shah J, Galat DL, Gloss S, Goodwin P, Hart DH, Hassett B, Jenkinson R, Katz S, Kondolf GM, Lake PS, Lave R, Meyer JL, O’Donnell TK, Pagano L, Sudduth E (2005) Synthesizing US river restoration efforts. Science 308:636–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birk S, Bonne W, Borja A, Brucet S, Courrat A, Poikane S, Solimini A, van de Bund W, Zampoukas N, Hering D (2012) Three hundred ways to assess Europe’s surface waters: An almost complete overview of biological methods to implement the water framework directive. Ecol Indic 18:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. BMUB/UBA (2013) Water resource management in Germany. Part 1 fundamentals and part 2 water quality. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and Federal Environment Agency (BMUB), Umweltbundesamt (UBA), Dessau-Roßlau, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  9. Boon PJ, Calow P, Petts GE (1992) River conservation and management. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UKGoogle Scholar
  10. Boon PJ, Raven PJ (2012) River conservation and management. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UKGoogle Scholar
  11. Boyer M, Piégay H, Ruffinoni C, Citterio A, Bourgery C, Caillebote P (1998) Guide technique n°1. La gestion des boisements de rivières. Agence de l’Eau Rhône-Méditerranée Corse (RMC WA) (French language)Google Scholar
  12. Brookes A, Gregory KJ, Dawson FH (1983) An assessment of river channelization in England and Wales. Sci Total Environ 27:97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cans R (1997) « Les trois sœurs de l’écologie », In Besse JM, Roussel I, Environnement: représentations et concepts de la nature, L’Harmattan Edition (French language)Google Scholar
  14. Caro C (2009) Le développement de la conscience environnementale et l’émergence de l’écologie politique dans l’espace public en France et en Allemagne, 1960-1990. PhD Thesis, Université Paris III / Technische Universität Dresden (French language)Google Scholar
  15. Clark MJ (2002) Dealing with uncertainty: adaptive approaches to sustainable river management. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 12:347–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Combroux ICS, Bornette G, Amoros C (2002) Plant regenerative strategies after a major disturbance: the case of a riverine wetland restoration. Wetlands 22(2):234–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cottet M, Piégay H, Bornette G (2013) Does human perception of wetland aesthetics and health relate to ecological functioning? J Environ Manage 128:1012–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis MA, Slobodkin LB (2004) The science and values of restoration ecology. Restor Ecol 12:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dudgeon D, Arthington AH, Gessner MO, Kawabata ZI, Knowler DJ, Lévêque C, Naiman RJ, Prieur-Richard AH, Soto D, Stiassny MLJ, Sullivan CA (2005) Freshwater biodiversity: importance, threats, status and conservation challenges. Biol Rev 81:163–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dufour S, Piégay H (2009) From the myth of a lost paradise to targeted river restoration: forget natural references and focus on human benefits. River Res Appl 25:568–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dunn H (2004) Defining the ecological values of rivers: the views of Australian river scientists and managers. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 14:413–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. EC (1982) The European and their environment. Eurobarometer, Commission of the European Communities (EC). Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  23. EEA (2007). Corine Land Cover 2006 technical guidelines. European Environment Agency (EEA) Technical report, 17/2007. Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  24. EEA (2012a) Catchments and Rivers Network System ECRINS v1.1. Rationales, building and improving for widening uses to Water Accounts and WISE applications. European Environment Agency (EEA) Technical report, 7/2012. Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  25. EEA (2012b) European waters - assessment of status and pressures. European Environment Agency (EEA) Report, 8/2012. Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  26. EEA (2016) WISE WFD database, published 12/11/2012, last modified 15/08/2016, European Environment Agency (EEA).
  27. Everard M (2012) Why does ‘good ecological status’ matter? Water Environ J 26(2):165–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Forget G, Bernez I (2011) Assessment of the success of headwater restoration through the vegetation diversity analysis of four Oir river’s tributaries (Normandy, France). Procedia. Environ Sci 9:47–53Google Scholar
  29. Friberg N, Bonada N, Bradley DC, Dunbar MJ, Edwards FK, Grey J, Hayes RB, Hildrew AG, Lamouroux N, Trimmer M, Woodward G (2011) Biomonitoring of human impacts in freshwater ecosystems: the goof, the bad and the ugly. In: Woodward G (ed) Advances in ecological research, 44. Academic press, Amsterdam, p 1–68Google Scholar
  30. Fryirs K, Brierley GJ (2009) Naturalness and place in river rehabilitation. Ecol Soc 14(1):20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Garcia de Jalón D, Alonso C, González del Tanago M, Martinez V, Gurnell A, Lorenz S, Wolter C, Rinaldi M, Belletti B, Mosselman E, Hendriks D, Geerling G (2013) Effects of pressures on hydromorphology. REFORM Delivrable, D1.2Google Scholar
  32. González del Tánago M, García de Jalón D, Román M (2012) River restoration in Spain: Theoretical and practical approach in the context of the European water framework directive. Environ Manage 50:123–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. González del Tánago M, Martínez-Fernández V, García de Jalón D (2016) Diagnosing problems produced by flow regulation and other disturbances in Southern European rivers: the Porma and Curuenõ Rivers (Duero Basin, NW Spain). Aquat Sci 78:121–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gore JA (1985) The restoration of rivers and streams. Theories and experience. Butterworth Publishers, Boston, USAGoogle Scholar
  35. Gore JA, Petts GE, (1989) Alternatives in regulated river management. Inc.CRC Press Inc., Boca Raton, USA Google Scholar
  36. Gregory KJ (2006) The human role in changing river channels. Geomorphology 79:172–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Grisoni A, Sierra R (2013) Écologie ou Umwelt? Une revue historiographique des engagements écologistes et environnementalistes en France et en Allemagne. Revue de l’IFHA, Online, 5 (French language)Google Scholar
  38. Groombridge B, Jenkins M (1998) Freshwater biodiversity: a preliminary global assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, World Conservation Monitoring Centre Biodiversity Series No. 8, WCMC - World Conservation Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  39. Henry CP, Amoros C (1995) Restoration ecology of riverine wetlands. 1. A scientific base. Environ Manage 19(6):891–902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Henry CP, Amoros C, Giuliani Y (1995) Restoration ecology of riverine wetlands: II. An example in a former channel of the Rhone river. Environ Manage 19(6):903–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hering D, Borja A, Carstensen J, Carvalho L, Elliott M, Feld CK, Heiskanen AS, Johnson RK, Moe J, Pont D, Solheim AL, van de Bund W (2010) The European water framework directive at the age of 10: A critical review of the achievements with recommendations for the future. Sci Total Environ 408:4007–4019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Husson F, Josse J, Pagès J (2010) Principal component methods - hierarchical clustering - partitional clustering: why would we need to choose for visualizing data? Technical Report – Agrocampus. Applied Mathematics Department, September 2010. Rennes, FranceGoogle Scholar
  43. Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Hering D (2009) Restoration effort, habitat mosaics, and macroinvertebrates - does channel form determine community composition? Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 19(2):157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Hering D, Antons C, Sundermann A, Jedicke E, Haase P (2011) River restoration success: a question of perception. Ecol Appl 21(6):2007–2015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kail J, Hering D, Muhar S, Gerhard M, Preis S (2007) The use of large wood in stream restoration: experiences from 50 projects in Germany and Austria. J Appl Ecol 44(6):1145–1155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kail J, Brabec K, Poppe M, Januschke K (2015) The effect of river restoration on fish, macroinvertebrates and aquatic macrophytes: A meta-analysis. Ecol Indic 58:311–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kail J, Wolter C (2010) Analysis and evaluation of large-scale river restoration planning in Germany to better link river research and management. River Res Appl 27:985–999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kallis G, Butler D (2001) The EU water framework directive: measures and implications. Water Policy 3(2):125–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kern K (1992) Rehabilitation of streams in south-west Germany. In: Boon PJ, Calow P, Petts GE (ed) River conservation and management. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK, p 321–335Google Scholar
  50. Kondolf GM (1998) Lessons learned from river restoration projects in California. Aquatic Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 8:39–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kondolf GM, Yang CN (2008) Planning river restoration projects: social and cultural dimensions. In: Darby S, Sear D (ed) River restoration: Managing the uncertainty in restoring physical habitat. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK, p 43–60Google Scholar
  52. Kristensen EA, Kronvang B, Wiberg-Larsen P, Thodsen H, Nielsen C, Amor E, Friberg N, Pedersen ML, Baattrup-Pedersen A (2014) 10 years after the largest river restoration project in Europe: Hydromorphological changes on multiple scales in River Skjern. Ecol Eng 66:141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lamouroux N, Gore JA, Lepori F, Statzner B (2015) The ecological restoration of large rivers needs science-based, predictive tools meeting public expectations: an overview of the Rhône project. Freshw Biol 60:1069–1084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Langhans SD, Gessner J, Hermoso V, Wolter C (2016) Coupling systematic planning and expert judgement enhances the efficiency of river restoration. Sci Total Environ 560-561:266–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Latapie A, Camenen B, Rodrigues S, Paquier A, Bouchard JP, Moatar F (2014) Assessing channel response of a long river influenced by human disturbance. Catena 121:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Le Lay YF, Piégay H, Gregory K, Chin A, Dolédec S, Elosegi A, Mutz M, Wyżga B, Zawiejska J (2008) Variations in cross-cultural perception of riverscapes in relation to in-channel wood. Trans Inst of Br Geogr 33:268–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Le S, Josse J, Husson F (2008). FactoMineR: An R Package for Multivariate Analysis. J Stat Softw 25(1):1–18Google Scholar
  58. Lorenz AW, Jähnig SC, Hering D (2009) Re-meandering German lowland streams: Qualitative and quantitative effects of restoration measures on hydromorphology and macroinvertebrates. Environ Manage 44:745–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lüderitz V, Jüpner R, Müller S, Feld CK (2004) Renaturalization of streams and rivers – the special importance of integrated ecological methods in measurement of success. An example from Saxony-Anhalt (Germany). Limnologica 34:249–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Malavoi JR, Souchon Y (2010) Construire le retour d’expérience des opérations de restauration hydromorphologique. Eléments pour une harmonisation des concepts et des méthodes de suivi scientifique minimal. Volets hydromorphologie - hydroécologie. ONEMA (French language)Google Scholar
  61. Matthews J, Reeze B, Feld C, Hendriks A (2010) Lessons from practice: assessing early progress and success in river rehabilitation. Hydrobiologia 655:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. MEA (2005) Millennium ecosystem assessment. Ecosystem and human well-being: wetlands and water synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, p 80Google Scholar
  63. Morandi B (2014) River restoration in France and worldwide: from the definition of a concept to the practical evaluation of projects. Applicable research elements. PhD Thesis, Université de Lyon, (French language)Google Scholar
  64. Morandi B, Piégay H (2011) River restoration experiences on the web: operational outcomes and perspectives. Nat Sci Soc 19:224–235. (French language)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Morandi B, Piégay H, Lamouroux N, Vaudor L (2014) How is success or failure in river restoration projects evaluated? Feedback from French restoration projects. J Environ Manage 137:178–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Morandi B, Piégay H, Johnstone K, Miralles D (2016) Les Agences de l’eau et la restauration: 50 ans de tension entre hydraulique et écologique. Vertigo, 16-1 (French language)Google Scholar
  67. Nakamura K, Tockner K, Amano K, 2006. River and wetland restoration: lessons from Japan. Bioscience 56:419–429Google Scholar
  68. ONEMA (2011a) Towards the restoration of rivers and aquatic environments - A collection of river hydromorphology restoration examples, Office National de l’Eau et des Milieux Aquatiques (ONEMA), Agences de l’Eau (WA). Vincennes, FranceGoogle Scholar
  69. ONEMA (2011b) Why is it needed to restore river continuity?, Office National de l’Eau et des Milieux Aquatiques (ONEMA). Vincennes, FranceGoogle Scholar
  70. Ormerod SJ (2004) A golden age of river restoration science? Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 14:543–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Oss M, Maiolini B (2008) La riqualificazione fluviale in trentino: analisi degli interventi effettuati dal 1990 al 2006. Riqualificazione Fluviale 0:30–33. (Italian language)Google Scholar
  72. Paetzold A, Warren PH, Maltby LL (2010) A framework for assessing ecological quality based on ecosystem services. Ecol Complex 7(3):273–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Pahl-Wostl C (2006) The importance of social learning in restoring the multifunctionality of rivers and floodplains. Ecol Soc 11(1):10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Palmer MA, Bernhardt ES (2006) Hydroecology and river restoration: ripe for research and synthesis. Water Resour Res 42(3):1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Palmer MA, Menninger HL, Bernhardt ES (2010) River restoration, habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity: a failure of theory or practice? Freshw Biol 55(S1):205–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Patt H, Jürging P, Kraus W (1998) Naturnaher Wasserbau. Entwicklung und Gestaltung von Fließgewässern. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, (German language)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Piegay H, Gregory KJ, Bondarev V, Chin A, Dahlstrom N, Elosegi A, Gregory SV, Joshi V, Mutz M, Rinaldi M, Wyzga B, Zawiejska J (2005) Public perception as a barrier to introducing wood in rivers for restoration purposes. Environ Manage 36(5):665–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Pollard P, Huxham M (1998) The European water framework directive: a new era in the management of aquatic ecosystem health? Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 8:773–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. R Core Team (2013). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  80. Reich M, Kershner JL, Wildman R (2003) Restoring streams with large wood: A synthesis. Am Fish Soc Symp 37:355–366Google Scholar
  81. Riquier J, Piégay H, Šulc Michalková M (2015) Hydromorphological conditions in eighteen restored floodplain channels of a large river: linking patterns to processes. Freshw Biol 60:1085–1103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. RM WA (2011) Portail documentaire de l’Agence de l’eau Rhin-Meuse (online case studies: (French language)Google Scholar
  83. RMC WA (2006) Retour d’expérience d’opérations de restauration de cours d’eau et de leurs annexes, menées sur le bassin RMC. Agence de l’Eau Rhône-Méditerranée & Corse (French language)Google Scholar
  84. Roni P, Beechie T, Pess G, Hanson K (2015) Wood placement in river restoration: fact, fiction, and future direction. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 72:466–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Roni P, Liermann M, Muhar S, Schmutz S (2012) Monitoring and evaluation of restoration actions. In: Roni P, Beechie T (eds) Stream and watershed restoration: a guide to restoring riverine processes and habitats. Wiley, Chichester, p 254–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Ruchay D (1995) Living with water: Rhine river basin management. Wat Sci Tech 31(8):27–32Google Scholar
  87. Sarriquet PE, Bordenave P, Marmonier P (2007) Effects of bottom sediment restoration on interstitial habitat characteristics and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages in a headwater stream. River Res Appl 23:815–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Shields FD, Cooper CM, Knight SS, Moore MT (2003) Stream corridor restoration research: a long and winding road. Ecol Eng 20:441–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Souchon Y (2012) Restaurations des cours d’eau. Que nous apprennent les suivis écologiques documentés? ONEMA (French language)Google Scholar
  90. Thomas G, Lorenz AW, Sundermann A, Haase P, Peter A, Stoll S (2015) Fish community responses and the temporal dynamics of recovery following river habitat restorations in Europe. Freshw Sci 34(3):975–990CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Toedter A (2012) Charakterisierung und Klassifizierung von Fließgewässer-Revitalisierungsmaßnahmen in Deutschland. Diplomarbeit, Universität Potsdam (German language). Potsdam, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  92. Vörösmarty CJ, McIntyre PB, Gessner MO, Dudgeon D, Prusevich A, Green P, Glidden S, Bunn SE, Sullivan CA, Reidy Liermann C, Davies PM (2010) Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467(7315):555–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. WBA (1989) Flüsse und Bäche: erhalten, entwickeln, gestalten. Wasserwirtschaft in Bayern (WBA), Oberste Baubehörde im Bayerischen Staatsministerium des Innern (German language)Google Scholar
  94. Weber C, Peter A (2001) Success or failure? Do indicator selection and reference setting influence river rehabilitation outcome? North Am. J. Fish Manag 31:535–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Whiteway SL, Biron PM, Zimmermann A, Venter O, Grant JWA (2010) Do in-stream restoration structures enhance salmonid abundance? A meta-analysis. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 67(5):831–841CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bertrand Morandi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jochem Kail
    • 2
  • Anne Toedter
    • 3
  • Christian Wolter
    • 4
  • Hervé Piégay
    • 1
  1. 1.Université de Lyon, UMR 5600 EVS – CNRS15 Parvis René DescartesFrance
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic EcologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  3. 3.University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth- and Environmental SciencePotsdam-GolmGermany
  4. 4.Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations