Hydroecology and Floodplain Sustainability in Application
In Switzerland hydropower production is an important component of the future energy strategy but its sustainable development is mandatory. The application of adaptive flow management and restoration of rivers and floodplains is becoming more rigorous and even obligatory. Furthermore, there are expected future changes in precipitation regimes and ongoing glacier retreat, clearly leading to potential water resource conflicts. However, there are few tools and basic indicators for predicting and quantifying, in particular, ecological and morphological impacts of potentially cost intensive management actions such as adaptions to hydropeaking, an increase in minimal flow conditions or sediment restoration. Therefore, the significance of the project is expected in the development and validation of tools and indicators to predict, quantify, and monitor the consequences of adaptive flow management and other restoration actions in particular for floodplains as centers of biodiversity of an exceptionally high value with respect to goods and services. For this we integrate the development and testing of indicators linking structure and function in floodplain systems, comprehensive modelling and monitoring using remote sensing techniques. These tools are expected to contribute to the definition and quantification of adaptive flow management in terms of cost-benefit analysis for the socio-economic and ecological interests as well as decision support for protection, use planning and concessional renewals and the definition and evaluation of compensation areas. Further impacts of changing flow conditions due to climate change also could be estimated using the developed model(s) and cost effective monitoring by remote sensing allows for success control and efficient management adaption strategies at the whole ecosystem level.
Overall, the project is expected to support a sustainable development of hydropower production while optimizing and evaluation ecological floodplain goods and services and maintaining effective decision-making processes.
Client and financing: Swiss National fund