Elbe River

General Description

Namely the floods of the Elbe (and the nearby river Oder on the Polish border) in 2002 and 2006 led to a rethinking in river policy in the region and nationwide: In the wake of the big floods it was decided, that there will no more river engineering measures or dams at the Elbe. The Untere Havel was given up as a national waterway and flood prevention measures will be developed by restoring the natural buffer function of the river systems Elbe and Havel and using it’s natural ecosystem services. That means relocation of dykes, activation of floodplain forests, reconnection of old river arms and unsealing of river banks. During the next years the effects of climate change will lead to a 40% increase of winter rains, causing the flood risk to tenfold. These projects for ecological restauration and development of the river landscapes Elbe and Havel within the biosphere reserve are integrated in the German Strategy of Biological Diversity.

Visiting the Construction Site of a new Elbe Dyke

(Photo: Ralf Schulte, NABU)

The Construction of the Dyke

(Photo: Ralf Schulte, NABU)

The objective of the project “Biosphärenreservat Mittlere Elbe” is the safeguarding and development of a continuous network of intact floodplain meadows and forests, on an area of total 9,050 hectares, for a project period until 2018 and costs of 23,4 mio Euros. Relocating a dyke on a 7 km long stretch is an integral measure of the whole restauration concept. In the realizing this measure the local population was involved from the very beginning by moderation process. The creation of retention areas is an essential element of the flood protection concept of the federal state of Sachsen-Anhalt to buffer the impacts of the changed climatic situation in this region. Responsible for the project and its management is WWF Germany.

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The project was funded from a Leonardo da Vinci grant.