Eco-hydrological restoration of Meuse River basin in the North Limburg region

The Flemish government in recent years has developed new management plans for the waterways in the North Limburg region. The plans highlight issues concerning fish migration and brook structures.

Under contract to the Flanders Environment Agency (VMM), Witteveen+Bos works on integrated solutions for the hydrological restoration and ecological connections of various waterways in the Meuse River basin, including the Dommel River and the Warmbeek, Abeek, Lossing, Itterbeek, Bosbeek and Witbeek brooks.

Our starting point is to aim for ecological system restoration without endangering land use or heritage value.

North Limburg region: a biodiverse, cultural-historical landscape under pressure

North Limburg is a region that has many natural river valleys rich in biodiversity. Since the Middle Ages, large natural areas and most valleys were changed to accommodate agriculture, industry and homes. Waterways were channelled, embanked or relocated and quite a few weirs and windmills were built to be able to process agricultural products locally. Although windmills and other civil engineering structures today form part of the cultural-historical heritage, we have since learned that these interventions also obstruct the natural migration of protected fish species, such as brook lamprey, chub and dace.

A custom sustainable solution for plants, people and animals

Witteveen+Bos, on the basis of a participatory programme, works with various partners and involved parties (incl. city councils, Flanders Environment Agency (VMM), land users, nature organisations and the Mieco-effect consultancy firm) on sustainable solutions that increase the ecological value of the waterways with attention for heritage value and other land users.

On the basis of the results of integrated preliminary studies of waterways we are developing scenarios designed to produce more natural systems with respect for the environment through structural restoration measures (e.g. reintroduction of meandering brooks and bank rehabilitation). In this respect we aim for biodiverse systems with high water quality that buffer water scarcity and floods.

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Sofie Depauw.jpg
Sofie Depauw