LIFE+ Project for river and floodplain improvement in the Emmericher Ward Project
This project focused on measures to improve habitats along the Lower Rhine, near Emmerich (Germany) adjacent to the Dutch border. The Emmerich floodplain has been disconnected from the river Rhine since 1850. The area is characterized by several remnants of typical habitats such as small areas of alluvial forests, natural river shorelines and various other associated aquatic and terrestric habitats. The site faces a number of problems including: very small areas of alluvial forest; reduced connectivity between the river stretch and river floodplain; negative impacts of traffic on the river and limited options for regular flooding events because of dykes.
Aim of the project was the improvement of the NATURA2000 sites DE-4103-302 (nature reserve Emmericher Ward) and DE-4405-301 (protected fish areas of the rhine between Emmerich and Bad Honnef) as key elements of the Special Protected Area (SPA) “Unterer Niederrhein” (DE-4203-401) on the Lower Rhine near Emmerich by means of the construction of a secondary channel (between Rhine-kilometers 854 – 857) combined with the establishment of floodplain forest. Beside the LIFE+ Project in Bislich (Germany), this project was the second largest conservation project at the the lower Rhine river. Intensive co-operation with the river authority and other stakeholders was conducted.
Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria
Cutting through four subsequent groins a secondary channel of about 2 km length was built, which is supposed caring water most time of the year. Thus, improving the habitats of the river and his banks as well as the interconnection of river and floodplain. In the adjacent floodplain a riparian forest of about 22 ha is establishing, integrating the already before existing riparian forest of about 5 ha. Regarding the two main habitat elements the objectives of the project are:
- To establish a river stretch with natural dynamic river flow and bank structures and to initiate a variety of depths, currents, sediments and sediment dynamics;
- To protect the new river habitats from the negative impact of the swell caused by passing boats;
- To improve the ecological and hydrological connection between the river and floodplain;
- To re-establish the priority habitats alluvial forests and mixed floodplain forest, which are almost extinct in the Lower Rhine region, across an area of 22 hectares and
- To minimize the barrier effect of the forest in the event of flooding by integrating forest aisles.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
- An opened-up river side-channel (2.2 km long, up to 35 m wide) reconnecting the river for most time of the year;
- Improved ecological and hydrological connection between the river and its floodplain, as well as an improvement of the amphibian transition zone between the river and the floodplain;
- Restoration of spawning ground and breeding habitats for the priority fish species Coregonus oxyrhynchus and breeding and resting habitats for several migratory fish species and fish associated with fast-moving waters (Annex II, Habitat Directive of the European Union);
- Development of shallow banks of different sediment types including for the Directive-listed habitats: "Rivers with muddy banks with Chenopodion rubri p.p. and Bidention", "Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains"; and "Water courses of plain to montane altitudes with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho Batrachion vegetation";
- Conservation and augmentation of the Cobitis taenia population, the breeding habitat for Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) and the Nightingale (Luscinia megaryhnchos), as well as for the Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis),
- The expericence gained in construction and maintenance of side-channels can be used elsewhere, as this is an important part of the revitalization of river and floodplain habitats of community interest along the river Rhine.
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
Breeding grounds of sand martin Riparia riparia