In the Emmericher Ward a side-channel parallel to the river Rhine was created. At the same time, adjacent to the side-channel, a large floodplain forest complex was developed too. The project is supported by the EU, the state of Northrhine-Westphalia, the Kurt Lange Foundation, the HIT Umwelt- und Naturschutz Stiftungs-GmbH and the NABU.
Before the Rhine was built as a waterway, it was able to flow freely in the lowlands. This resulted in repeatedly branching streams and backwaters. With the technical development of the Rhine these valuable structures were lost. Furthermore, the high flow velocity and the lack of bed load lead to an increasing erosion of the river bed. Thus, the water level drops in the adjacent wetlands, resulting in drier conditions in the floodplain. This again leads to a loss of species and plants that need wet areas. By creating a side channel river and floodplain will be better connected and a natural development will be possible. River typical habitats, that do not have a place at a waterway, will be generated.
Riparian forest is one of the most threatened habitats in Central Europe. At the Lower Rhine it is almost completly absent. Due to the damming effect of riparian forests during a flood event tight boundaries are normally set in the development of this habitat. The combination of a side channel and riparian forest is compensating this effect and makes it possible to establish this rare habitat.