Establishment of riverside margins with site-specific/typical riparian vegetation

Establishment of riverside margins with site-specific/typical riparian vegetation
Riparian strips, at least 3-5 m wide, along flowing waters act as buffers and form linear connecting elements © Yann Kohler

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Fishery, Spatial planning, Nature protection

Affected habitats



Riparian strips, as the transition between water surfaces and land, are of particular ecological significance for water quality and are an important connecting element in the biotope network. These riparian strips play a key role in intensively used landscapes in terms of maintaining water functions (filter/buffer functions, protection of embankments, prevention of erosion). The restoration, or the development and maintenance, of existing riparian strips is thus a key priority in the active protection of the aquatic environment. The riparian zone also creates habitats, provides food and serves as a protective and resting space, and also provides nesting and breeding places. Riparian strips should therefore be equipped with site-appropriate near-natural vegetation and typical tree species, and, depending on the body of water, be at least 5-15 m wide.


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Insects
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 The habitat quality for various species of flora and fauna is improved and diverse structures are created along the watercourse.
Element of ecological network Near-natural flowing water systems form valuable elements of a biotope network and provide important corridors for the migration and dispersion of flora and fauna.
Other Typical tree species for the area can help protect against floods. The increase in natural habitats by flowing waters also helps to increase the quality of the water, and thus to achieve a 'good ecological status' for the body of water as defined in the EU Water Framework Directive.
Time of realisation for measure Months: Riparian strips created in a near-natural way develop their positive impacts after a few months (first vegetation period).
Impact scope Very localised (plot), Local (municipality): Comments: Comprehensive planning increases the degree of impact. Ideally, in addition to the riparian zones, structures typical for river meadows such as backwaters, wetlands and meanders should be included.


Implementation period Weeks, Months: Depending on the condition at the outset, the planning process takes a long period of time; in most cases individual measures can be implemented within a short period of time.
Frequency Recurring: While planting is a single operation, it has to be followed by regular maintenance.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs High (100'000-1 Mio EUR): Renunciation of use in the case of extensive use of riparian strips, compensation payments by countryside management programmes of between €289/ha per year and €715/ha per year.
Socio-economic impacts No direct impact: Expenditure can be reduced through the development of watercourses through their own dynamics. The appearance of the landscape is enhanced.
Sources of financing Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Funding opportunities Austria: Information will be available soon.
Legal situation In most cases, statutory regulations govern the establishment of riparian strips (around 10 m), but their design is not established precisely. Some standards can be drawn from the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Further information

Evaluation The positive impact of riparian strips and, due to their linear structure, their substantial importance for the biotope network, have already been recognised. To date there have only been a few examples in which riparian strips and woodland have been specifically included in the planning of biotope networks.
Information Other: Further information on the relevant terms and conditions governing support for riparian strips and woodland can be obtained from the nature conservation authorities concerned, the countryside management programmes and the water resources management authorities.

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