Multifunctional floodplain management and biodiversity effects: a knowledge synthesis for six European countries

Stefan Schindler*, Fionnuala H. O’Neill, Marianna Biró, Christian Damm, Viktor Gasso, Robert Kanka, Theo van der Sluis, Andreas Krug, Sophie G. Lauwaars, Zita Sebesvari, Martin Pusch, Boris Baranovsky, Thomas Ehlert, Bernd Neukirchen, James R. Martin, Katrin Euller, Volker Mauerhofer, Thomas Wrbka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Floodplain ecosystems are biodiversity hotspots and supply multiple ecosystem services. At the same time they are often prone to human pressures that increasingly impact their intactness. Multifunctional floodplain management can be defined as a management approach aimed at a balanced supply of multiple ecosystem services that serve the needs of the local residents, but also those of off-site populations that are directly or indirectly impacted by floodplain management and policies. Multifunctional floodplain management has been recently proposed as a key concept to reconcile biodiversity and ecosystem services with the various human pressures and their driving forces. In this paper we present biophysics and management history of floodplains and review recent multifunctional management approaches and evidence for their biodiversity effects for the six European countries Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and the Ukraine. Multifunctional use of floodplains is an increasingly important strategy in some countries, for instance in the Netherlands and Hungary, and management of floodplains goes hand in hand with sustainable economic activities resulting in flood safety and biodiversity conservation. As a result, biodiversity is increasing in some of the areas where multifunctional floodplain management approaches are implemented. We conclude that for efficient use of management resources and ecosystem services, consensual solutions need to be realized and biodiversity needs to be mainstreamed into management activities to maximize ecosystem service provision and potential human benefits. Multifunctionality is more successful where a broad range of stakeholders with diverse expertise and interests are involved in all stages of planning and implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1382
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Ecosystem services
  • Flood protection
  • Green infrastructure
  • River Regulation
  • River restoration
  • Water framework directive


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