Owing to river regulation in the past and intensive farming, the ecological value of the floodplains of the River Rhine in The Netherlands has decreased dramatically. One way to restore riverine biotopes is to create permanently flowing channels in the floodplain. Along the River Waal, the main branch of the Lower River Rhine, two such secondary channels have been created since 1994. A post-project monitoring programme of 5 years was set up, which included hydrological, morphological and ecological parameters. This article focuses on the monitoring of aquatic macrophytes, aquatic macroinvertebrates, fish and wading-birds. The results show that man-made, excavated secondary channels function as a biotope for riverine species including the more demanding rheophilic species. The demands for shipping and protection against flooding on the River Waal cause constraints on secondary channels. Despite these constraints there is still enough space for hydromorphological processes to create new habitats in secondary channel 1, near Opijnen. The space for hydromorphological processes is less in secondary channel 2, near Beneden-Leeuwen. The density and the number of (rheophilic) species are for a large part influenced by the water level and frequent inundation caused by the high hydrological connectivity. Man-made secondary channels seem to provide suitable habitat that is currently lacking for a broad range of rheophilic macroinvertebrate and fish species in the Lower River Rhine in The Netherlands. Owing to the lack of suitable habitats for rheophilic macroinvertebrate and fish species before the creation of the secondary channels, the importance of longitudinal and transversal migration could be illustrated by the drift of macroinvertebrates during floods and the seasonal migration of Age-0 and Age-1 fish species.
- river rhine
Simons, J. H. E. J., Bakker, C., Schropp, M. H. I., Jans, L. H., Kok, F. R., & Grift, R. E. (2001). Man-made secondary channels along the river Rhine (The Netherlands); results of post-project monitoring. River Research and Applications, 17, 473-491. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrr.661