Preservation of floodplains is flood protection

The silting of rivers and streams leads to problems for fish, mussels, and other aquatic organisms because their habitats disappear. However, not only intensive agriculture and erosion are destroying these habitats. Now a study conducted by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) refutes this wide-spread view. In order to save the species living in the river basin -- and protect people from the threat of devastating floods -- rivers need more space, diversity, and freedom.

The subject of the study was the Moosach, a tributary of the Isar and located right at the Weihenstephaner "doorstep" of the TUM. The Moosach largely flows between the Munich gravel plain and tertiary hill country in an artificial bed. Every few years the river has to be excavated to remove several thousand cubic meters of mud.

The tertiary hill country, 65 million years old, is among the areas with the highest erosion rates. However, less than one percent of the erosion material remains on the ground and the siltation problem cannot be solved by reducing the erosion. This result was provided by the analysis of riverbed samples over the course of several years by Professor Karl Auerswald from the Chair of Grassland Studies and Professor Jürgen Geist from the Chair of Aquatic Systems Biology.

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