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Ecology

Due to the exemplary cooperation of the ICPR – Rhine bordering countries, the ecological state of the Rhine and its tributaries has further improved since 1995. Most of the intermediate aims for ecological revalorization of the river Rhine until 2005 stated in the “Programme for the sustainable development of the Rhine” – “Rhine 2020” have been achieved.

Alluvial plains of the Rhine are again flooded, oxbow lakes are reconnected to the river and along short stretches the river structures have been ecologically improved. The number of animal and plant species has increased. Since 2006, salmon and other migratory fish may again reach Strasbourg on their way upstream from the North Sea.

The connection of the different habitats along the Rhine from Lake Constance to the sea in order to achieve habitat patch connectivity is successful. In this connection, the ICPR sets definite targets and spatial focal points aimed at linking water protection with nature and flood protection. In spite of the success achieved, the ecological functionality of the comprehensive Rhine system is not yet satisfactory.

Above all, the ecological continuity of the Rhine from Lake Constance to the sea and of its tributaries must be further improved. Further targets are to increase the structural diversity of the banks of the Rhine and its arms (Rhine 2020 Balance 2005) and the extension of alluvial areas. With a view to restoring the ecological continuity of the Rhine and its tributaries the ICPR has drafted a "Master Plan Migratory Fish Rhine" (Technical Report no. 179, PFD 4,2 MB) .

Such ecological support is required, as numerous river training measures along the Rhine and almost all tributaries have basically modified the hydrological and morphological conditions. For example, cutting off more than 85 per cent of the alluvial areas along the Upper and Lower Rhine has led to great losses of habitats and of animal and plant species typical of the Rhine.

Did you know ...

That the Rhine ecosystem is comparable to a mosaic?

You will not find two locations along the 1233 km of its course which are the same. If you follow the river, the characteristics of the water and the river bed continuously change and so does the dissemination of the many hundreds of animal and plant species indigenous in the Rhine and its tributaries.