Maintenance of alluvial forests

Maintenance of alluvial forests
Riparian forests are the natural type of vegetation along streams and rivers. © Ich-und-Du/

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Forestry, Water management, Nature protection

Affected habitats

Forest, Waterbodies


Riparian forests are the natural type of vegetation along streams and rivers, and are strongly influenced by flooding and high groundwater levels. Due to their small-scale mosaic of different site conditions, riparian forests count among Europe’s most species-rich habitats. Due to their preference for river meadows as their habitat, near-natural riparian forests have virtually disappeared from Central Europe, however, as many riparian forests have been cleared and transformed into pasturage. Riparian forests have high recreational value, store water and improve groundwater quality. Depending on their size and condition, they can also contribute to flood protection. As ecosystems associated with flowing waters, they are extremely important for ecological connectivity. Measures to maintain and develop the riparian forests may include, for example, planting of typical tree species, near-natural management, securing of existing areas and maintaining structures associated with the riparian forests (e.g. small water bodies).


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Riparian forests constitute valuable habitats for many rare species, including white dryas (Dryas octopetala), the European tree-frog (Hyla arborea), the natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) and the Lady's Slipper.
Element of ecological network Near-natural flowing water systems with their associated structures constitute valuable elements of a biotope network. They provide corridors for the migration and dispersion of many flora and fauna.
Other Intact riparian forests help to improve surface water, stabilise the hydrological regime (EU-WFD) and protect against floods.
Time of realisation for measure Months: Depending on the situation at the outset and the measures required, the impact is either immediate, is revealed after some months or only appears over the long term.
Impact scope Local (municipality): To increase the impact, other accompanying structures should also be included in an appropriate strategy (such as, inter alia, standing water bodies, humid forests, headwaters).


Implementation period Months: The duration of the measures depends, in particular, on the situation at the outset. Comprehensive planning is required In the case of large-scale strategies that take account of the numerous interactions between the river meadows and the flowing waters.
Frequency Non-recurring: Regular support measures to help create a typical structure, in accordance with the local situation.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): Costs vary greatly depending on the measure. In most cases, conservation does not require comprehensive maintenance measures; renunciations of use can incur costs.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Subsidies for the protection of the aquatic environment and for flood protection (e.g. cultural landscape programme) are possible.
Sources of financing Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Conflicts of objectives regarding other functions may occur. Riparian forests in Europe have a special protected status, inter alia, through the Habitats Directive.

Further information

Evaluation The significant importance, in nature conservation terms, of riparian forests is demonstrated, inter alia, by their high protected status. Information on suitable measures and subsidies can be obtained from the nature conservation authority concerned.
Information Other: From the relevant nature conservation authorities and organisations. Further information also available under:

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