Management and maintenance of flowing waters

Management and maintenance of flowing waters
An individual management plan should be produced for each body of water. © Carolin Begle/ CIPRA International

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Water management, Fishery, Nature protection

Affected habitats



Near-natural flowing water systems are important connecting elements which make a substantial contribution to reducing fragmentation. In many cases, however, the space and financial resources required for the comprehensive revitalisation of obstructed rivers are not available. However, upgrading can be achieved with near-natural, differentiated management concepts which can be integrated into the legally prescribed management work along water bodies (flood protection). As part of this process, a holistic view should be taken of the embankments, riparian zones and water bodies, and adjacent green spaces (biotope network) should also be included. Appropriate maintenance measures include management of meadows, woodland (bank stabilisation), and regeneration in the areas of erosion. An individual management plan should be produced for each body of water, clearly defining the development goals.


Impact in particular on Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Fish
Ecological impact  
Reduction of fragmentation or creation of new valuable habitats Richly structured near-natural flowing waters are important landscape elements with a high connectivity potential.
Improvement or preservation of habitats Appropriate maintenance measures improve the habitat quality of various species of flora and fauna, diverse structures are created and the dynamics of the watercourses increase.
Element of ecological network Near-natural flowing water systems with a high degree of structural diversity form valuable elements of a biotope network and provide corridors for the migration and dispersion of flora and fauna.
Other The increase in natural habitats by flowing waters, achieved through revitalisation measures, promotes the attainment of 'good ecological status' for the bodies of water as defined in the EU Water Framework Directive.
Time of realisation for measure Immediate: The impact either becomes apparent immediately or only appears after a few years, depending on the measure.
Impact scope Regional: Watercourse management measures are carried out locally but can be of importance at regional level.


Implementation period Days: Maintenance measures should be planned in advance and take place in partial interventions throughout the whole year, however only in riparian zone sections that are actually in need of maintenance.
Frequency Recurring: Should be regular.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): The costs are dependent on the type and scope of the measures to be implemented and, depending on the measure, can be financed through countryside management programmes.
Socio-economic impacts Medium: Flood protection measures can have positive economic effects.
Sources of financing Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Maintenance measures on bodies of water can form part of flood protection measures but, on a smaller scale, can be implemented by voluntary nature conservation or the local population.

Further information

Evaluation Watercourse management measures are being implemented everywhere and form part of flood protection measures. In addition, an example of an initiative to involve local municipalities and organisations exists in Switzerland in the form of an action day to maintain and upgrade water bodies. Maintenance and management measures on flowing waters are also implemented by nature conservation organisations.
Information Other: From the relevant water management authorities and voluntary nature conservation organisations.
Contact Switzerland: e.g.

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