Adjust land use to develop riparian vegetation

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General description

River Pielach in Austria : Extensification of land use along the river (source : BOKU, IHG)

Intensive anthropogenic use and alteration of riverine landscapes have led to severe degradation of river-floodplain systems, especially in highly industrialized countries. River bed erosion and loss of riparian habitat and species are among the most prominent consequences of these engineering works (Rohde et al. 2005).

The extensification of the land use at the adjacent areas of the river will lead to wider space for the development of riparian vegetation. The ability of restoration measures to host typical riparian species and to increase local plant diversity depends on the distance to near-natural stretches as the presence of a viable seed bank is an important prerequisite for the rehabilitation of natural vegetation. Passive restoration of riparian areas may be effective if invasive species do not compete with native vegetation (Roni et al. 2005).

Flood risk can be reduced through reduced runoff and increased soil water storage. Higher vegetation coverage and reduced surface flow often result in greater filtration of pollutants. Well managed meadows and pastures nearby the riparian buffers contribute to this effect by additionally reducing runoff, slowing surface flow and increasing infiltration (Kedziora et al. 2011). This would need to be coordinated at catchment scale.


Species dispersal and establishment might be hampered by decisions taken outside the scope of the restoration project due to catchment influences (Rohde et al. 2005). It is important to ensure a coordinated riparian management effort along a catchment to achieve improvements in many chemical and ecological parameters of streams.

Expected effect of measure on (including literature citations):

Category Description Source (citation)
Vegetation Riparian habitat improvement Gundersen et al. 2010
Physico-chemical parameters Reduced nutrient loads, improved water quality Gundersen et al. 2010; Parkyn et al. 2003

Temporal and spatial response

No available.

Pressures that can be addressed by this measure


Not available.

Case studies where this measure has been applied

Useful references

  • Gundersen, P., A. Laure´n, L. Fine´r, E. Ring, H. Koivusalo, M. Sætersdal, J.-O. Weslien, B. D. Sigurdsson, L. Ho¨gbom, J. Laine, and K. Hansen (2010). Environmental Services Provided from Riparian Forests in the Nordic Countries. AMBIO, 39, 555–566.
  • Kedziora, A., Zerihun Negussie Y, Tenaw Asres M, and Zalewski M (2011). Shaping of an agricultural landscape to increase water and nutrient retention. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology, 11(3-4), 205-222.
  • Parkyn, S. M., R. J. Davies-Colley, N. J. Halliday, K. J. Costley, and G. F. Croker (2003). Planted riparian buffer zones in New Zealand: do they live up to expectations? Restoration Ecology, 11, 436–447.
  • Rohde, S., M. Schutz, F. Kienast, and P. Englmaier (2005). River widening: an approach to restoring riparian habitats and plant species. River Research and Applications, 21, 1075–1094.
  • Roni, P., K. Hanson, T. Beechie, G. Pess, M. Pollock, and D. M. Bartley (2005). Habitat rehabilitation for inland fisheries. Global review of effectiveness and guidance for rehabilitation of freshwater ecosystems. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, 484.

Other relevant information