Spree - Restoration and remeandering of the Müggelspree - downstream Mönchwinkel

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Spree - Restoration and remeandering of the Müggelspree - downstream Mönchwinkel

Factsheet: Spree - Restoration and remeandering of the Müggelspree - downstream Mönchwinkel

Country DE
River Name Spree
Site Name Spree - Restoration and remeandering of the Müggelspree - downstream Mönchwinkel
River Characterisation
    River typology
    Location (Lat Lon) 52.377747, 13.878897
    Altitude lowland: < 200 m
    Catchment area large: > 1000 - 10000 km2
    Geology Siliceous
    National code/
    River type name
    Mid-sized lowland river
    Hydromorphological quality elements

    Biological quality elements
    Ecosystem Services
    EU Directives
    Project size 0.95 km
    Approximate costs
    Status Realised
    Period of realization 2005
    Evaluation Hydromorphological and ecological changes

    Key features of the case study

    In the following section, background and motives of the restoration project which led to the initiation of the project are introduced.

    Drivers and pressures

    Various hydro-engineering measures led to an extreme degradation of the River Spree until the 60s of the 20th century. In order to facilitate flood protection, generation of energy by water mills, agricultural use of the wetlands, and shipping, the river was channelized by (I) shore fortification by rip-rap or hybrid poplar plantings, (II) meander cutting, and (III) constructing a symmetrical trapezoidal cross-section. The mean discharge was artificially increased by the removal of ground water during upstream open-cast lignite mining activities. As a consequence, the river lost most of its natural variability of the flow regime, sediments, and morphology leading to subsequent degradation of the riverine biota.

    Global objective

    In 2004, the Federal State of Brandenburg started implementing an intense restoration program in one section of the River Spree, the so called Müggelspree. The main objective of this program was to reconnect the previously cut meanders to the main channel. Since then, several old oxbows have been dredged and reconnected on both sides of the main channel. The reconnection of oxbows was accompanied by the removal of rip-raps and groynes and the replacement of the introduced hybrid poplars by native willows, oaks, or alders.

    Specific goals

    The restoration and re-meandering of the Müggelspree aimed to:

    • Restore the natural hydrology, morphology, and oxygen balance of the river
    • Improve water retention in the landscape
    • Develop habitats to improve benthic and rheophil species

    Site description

    The Müggelspree is a sixth-order section of the Lower River Spree that extends from Große Tränke to the village of Neu Zittau, east of Berlin. As a result of the river straightening described above, the Müggelspree has a trapezoid channel profile with a mean slope of 0.015%, a mean water depth of 1.25m at medium discharge, and a mean channel width of 25 m (Schulz et al. 2003). Between 1998 and 2002, discharge has ranged between 2.5m3 s−1 in summer and 30m3 s−1 in early spring (Schulz et al. 2003). In the early 1990s, the Lower River Spree changed from a turbid to a macrophyte-dominated state (Köhler and Hoeg, 2000). Shifting sand covers the midstream riverbed, whereas stable sand prevails in the lateral parts of the riverbed. The latter is often colonized by macrophytes or mussels. Total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations range between 0.7 and 3.4mg N l−1, and 70 and 180g P l−1, respectively. (Schulz et al. 2003). Therefore, the Lower River Spree is classified as a eutrophic section. About 53% of its banks are lined by trees such as willow trees (Salix spp.), poplar trees (Populus spp.), and alder trees (Alnus glutinosa) (Schulz et al. 2003).

    Measures selection

    A large broad of measures were implemented along the Müggelspree through different projects improving 15.3 km of the river. These measures were:

    • Connection of 4 historically cut meander from 2005 to 2008 (Mönchwinkel I, Mönchwinkel II, Sieverslake, Freienbrink III). At each site, the former main channel was blocked by a gravel dam to redirect all flow through the new meander; the remaining old main stem stretches serve as new flow protected habitats (new oxbows) and their depth and width variability slightly improved by alternating sand bars.
    • Replacement of hybrid poplars: In areas of high ecological value, introduced trees have been replaced by native willow, oak, and alder at a length of 11.3 km along the river stretch from 2004-2007 and in 2009/2010. Initial plantings of native trees were conducted in 2005/2006 and from 2009-2012.
    • Selective removal of shore fortification: For the development of natural habitat structures and to improve riverbed structure, groynes have been removed in 2009. A natural undercut, eroding bank that enables natural erosion processes was constructed in 2011.
    • Restoration of oxbow lakes: 1 historically cut meander (Kirchhofen II) was restored by dredging sediment and connected at one side to the main channel in 2010/2011.

    Within the next 10 years, the project “Restoration of the hydraulic capacity of the Müggelspree” will be implemented. During this project, lateral restrictions of the river bed by reed or sediment deposition will be removed; further shore fortification and groynes will be removed; and dredging of the river bed in the lower course of the river stretch will be performed. Furthermore, a detailed river development plan will be established by the beginning of 2014.

    Success criteria

    No information found.

    Ecological response

    Hydromorphological response

    Monitoring before and after implementation of the project

    Socio-economic aspects

    Contact person within the organization

    Extra background information


    Related Measures

    Related Pressures