Since the high discharge events of 1993 and 1995 Dutch policy regarding flood protection has left the principle of raising the dikes. International agreements have been made to lower water levels by giving more room to the river. In addition, floodplain lowering and reconstruction as well as dike realignments create an excellent opportunity to restore natural processes and values and to improve the resilience of the riverine ecosystems. his implies a remarkable break with a centuries long tradition of river management and a demand for new concepts and knowledge. The IRMA SPONGE programme offered the opportunity to investigate the applicability of river restoration measures in relation to flood protection in general, and, more specific, the usefulness of the Cyclic Floodplain Rejuvenation concept in different parts of the river Rhine system. The final report on Cyclic Floodplain Rejuvenation presents the main results of the different studies, highlighted in some case studies.
Flood defence measures can involve large scale reconstruction of floodplains, which will have great impacts on the biodiversity of the river systems. Hydraulic effects and ecological consequences of these measures must be evaluated in a way that ensures attuning of policy goals concerning flood prevention and conservation of biodiversity. Methods are needed to help direct this process. Sound biodiversity assessments need scientifically underpinned knowledge of (river) ecosystems. Within the framework of IRMA-SPONGE, a transnational version of the model BIO-SAFE (Spreadsheet Application For Evaluation of BIOdiversity) for the rivers Rhine and Meuse was developed. The transnational model BIO-SAFE (Spreadsheet Application For Evaluation of BIOdiversity) is a policy and legislation based assessment model that quantifies biodiversity values in river basins for several taxonomic groups and landscape ecological units on the basis of the policy status and habitat demands of river characteristic species. The model uses data on presence of species and riverine landscape ecological units (ecotopes) for different levels of spatial scale. BIO-SAFE was specifically designed for impact assessment of flood risk reduction measures on biodiversity in floodplains. BIO-SAFE was constructed for the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium, allowing policy and legislation based biodiversity assessment for each country separately.
After the floods of 1993 and 1995 in the Rhine basin, the ICPR Action Plan on Flood Defence (ICPR, 1998) was drawn up, after which the environmental affairs ministers of the Rhine riparian states agreed on several measures on the subject of improvement of flood forecasting and warning systems in the Rhine basin. One of the targets of this action plan is the extension of the forecasting period for reliable flood forecasts in the entire Rhine basin. For the Dutch gauging station Lobith on the German-Dutch boarder the forecasting period should be extended from two days to three days in the year 2000 and to four days in the year 2005. To meet the demands for a four-day forecast, the forecasting system called FloRIJN was improved and transformed into a Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) for the Rhine. The FloRIJN version that is available at the end of the IRMA-SPONGE project offers the functionality to import, validate, edit and interpolate all sorts of required data.
The main goal of this project was to develop and apply a generic Decision Support System that supports the approach of river landscape planning using two alternate approaches. In the "top-down" approach plans are developed conceptually on a large inter-reach scale and subsequently defined in more detail on a local scale. Alternatively in the "bottom-up" approach detailed plans for local river floodplains may not only be analysed on the detailed local scale, but also in conjunction with adjacent plans and ultimately as part of the plans developed on an inter-reach scale. The DSS supports the definition and design of complex plans. To this end the DSS contains amongst other a functionality through which a promising search area for new plans can be established. A user may define the importance that is attached to existing values in the study area, such as cultural historical values, valuable landscapes, etc. Given these preferences the DSS determines the most promising area for development of new plans.
This publication is the result of a combined effort by the consortium members from the "Ecoflood Project: Towards natural flood reduction
strategies" which has been funded in the context of the Environment and Sustainable Development RTD programme (EC contract EVK1-CT-2002-80017).
It is the product of three main events held during the project:
The Ecoflood International Conference: Towards natural flood reduction strategies, 6-13 September 2003, Warsaw, Poland.
The Ecoflood International Stakeholder Workshop: Practical constraints and opportunities, 23-24 January 2004, Delft, The Netherlands.
The Ecoflood Thinktank Meeting, 28-30 June 2004, Egham, UK. The main objective of these guidelines is to promote the use of floodplains as natural flood defence measures, while at the same time optimising other compatible functions and values through conservation and restoration. It is intended that these guidelines will be used as a tool primarily by policy-makers and decision-makers who are aware of the potential advantages of floodplain restoration and management in the role of flood control, but may benefit from comprehensive guidance on assessing, initiating, funding and carrying-out such schemes as well as information on the other functions floodplains can perform. It is also intended that they will be an accessible source of information for a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in floodplain management. Case studies are provided to illustrate the wide range of schemes that can be carried out and the degrees of success that have been achieved.
The document at hand concerns the "best practice document", which is an update of the United Nations and Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) Guidelines on Sustainable flood prevention (2000). It is a living document that will need continuous input and improve-ments as application and experience build up in all countries of the European Union and be-yond. We agree, however, that this document will be made publicity available in its current form in order to present it to a wider public. The "best practice document" consists of three parts. In part I the more basic principles and approached are described. Part II concerns how to translate and implement the principles and approaches. The conclusions are drawn in part III.
This document aims developing a work programme for WG F in the short and medium term, to support the implementation of the Floods Directive, to enable relevant coordination with the WFD and to continue the information exchange activities on flood risk management. One core objective of the group is to provide a platform for dialogue and support of the implementation of the Directive, in particular focussing on the formal requirements of the Floods Directive on developing reporting formats, and the related requirements of the Water Framework Directive (i.e on heavily modified water bodies, exemptions, water service cost recovery, accidental pollution prevention). Moreover, such cooperation will foster more integrated river basin management. The other core objective is information exchange. As recognised through the fruitful and successful information exchange between Member States in the Exchange circles on Flood forecasting and on Flood mapping, there is a strong need to further promote information exchange to enable Member States to learn from each others' good practices and experiences of flood risk management. Continued information exchange will be vital part of preparing the implementation of the Floods Directive.
On January 31 and February 1 (2002), the IRMA-SPONGE Umbrella Program was concluded with a Final Working Conference in Bonn - with a view over the Rhine river. The Conference aimed to present the final results of the 13 research projects involved to the 'Rhine/Meuse flood management community' as a whole - including the planners and managers who are the 'target group' of this research. With well over 100 participants, the Conference has certainly succeeded in this respect - and the atmosphere can be described as enthusiastic. The program consisted partly of plenary sessions (at the start and end of both days), and partly of parallel sessions with project presentations and discussions, organised along the lines of the IRMA-SPONGE structure of Scientific Clusters - as follows: