River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Functionality of Aquatic Ecosystems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2022) | Viewed by 28846

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Environment Agency, Bristol BS1 5AH, UK
Interests: climate change; resilience; hydroecology; river restoration; appraisal; temporary rivers;

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Guest Editor
Cranfield Water Science Institute, School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, UK
Interests: geomorphology; hydromorphology; fine sediment; ecology; physical processes; natural capital; sustainable land systems
The River Restoration Centre, School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, UK
Interests: hydromorphology; geomorphology; ecology; river restoration; habitat assessment; decision support development; citizen science

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Freshwater is critical to biodiversity and to providing communities with access to health and socio-economic services, yet the importance of freshwater ecosystems is often overlooked. According to the Living Planet Index, freshwater species are declining at more than twice the rate of terrestrial or marine species. However, increasing attention is now being paid to the restoration of ecosystems to help limit and mitigate the effects of climate change, to ensure the sustainable provision of essential ecosystem services, and to stem the loss of habitats and species. Indeed, the United Nations has proclaimed 2021–2030 to be the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

This Special Issue focuses on river restoration monitoring, appraisal, and management. We invite the submission of contributions that highlight best practice in the development and implementation of schemes for monitoring and assessment of river restoration that will inform effective restoration measures and the application of nature-based solutions. We welcome original research papers, case-studies and critical reviews.

Dr. Judy England
Dr. Robert Grabowski
Dr. Marc Naura
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • river restoration
  • appraisal
  • monitoring
  • restoration appraisal
  • nature based-solutions
  • ecosystems
  • ecological response
  • floodplain rehabilitation
  • climate change adaptation

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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27 pages, 8484 KiB  
Article
Evaluation on the Restoration Effects in the River Restoration Projects Practiced in South Korea
by Ji Hong An, Bong Soon Lim, Jaewon Seol, A Reum Kim, Chi Hong Lim, Jeong Sook Moon and Chang Seok Lee
Water 2022, 14(17), 2739; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14172739 - 02 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2197
Abstract
This study evaluated the effects of the restoration of rivers carried out by the central government on streams located in major cities in South Korea. The effects of the restoration were evaluated based on the morphological and ecological characteristics, species composition and richness [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the effects of the restoration of rivers carried out by the central government on streams located in major cities in South Korea. The effects of the restoration were evaluated based on the morphological and ecological characteristics, species composition and richness of vegetation, and a Riparian Vegetation Index of the restored streams. The naturalness of the streams, based on both the morphological and ecological characteristics, as well as the Riparian Vegetation Index of the restored streams was significantly lower than that of the reference rivers. The vegetation profiles of the restored streams did not reflect the flooding regimen of the river. Furthermore, the herbaceous plants found on the streambanks give way to shrubs and then to tree-dominated vegetation, respectively. The species composition of the vegetation in the restored streams showed a significant difference from that of the reference streams and this difference was particularly more significant with regards to the herbaceous plant-dominated vegetation types. The species richness of the restored streams showed a difference among the different streams but was lower than that of the reference streams. The ratio of exotic and gardening plants occupied in the species composition of the restored streams tended to be higher than that in the reference streams. Considering the above results, the restoration effects were usually low in the restored streams. Accordingly, an active adaptive management plan was recommended to improve those problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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16 pages, 2736 KiB  
Article
The PlaceMarker Survey: A Place-Based Tool for Supporting the Monitoring and Appraisal of River-Related Projects and Natural Capital Assessments
by Geraldene Wharton, Angela M. Gurnell, Mark Ross and Dave Pereira-Gurnell
Water 2022, 14(16), 2514; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14162514 - 15 Aug 2022
Viewed by 1626
Abstract
The PlaceMarker Survey is an operational tool to support the delivery of the core aims of England’s Environment Agency (EA) in helping to increase resilience to climate change, manage flood risk, and create a better place for people and wildlife. It was developed [...] Read more.
The PlaceMarker Survey is an operational tool to support the delivery of the core aims of England’s Environment Agency (EA) in helping to increase resilience to climate change, manage flood risk, and create a better place for people and wildlife. It was developed in response to a recognised need by the EA’s National Environmental Assessment and Sustainability (NEAS) team for a broad-based survey undertaken in the field to get to know the site and prior to more specialist surveys. The key aim of the survey is to capture in a systematic and consistent way the character and condition of a place where river-related projects such as flood risk management and river restoration schemes are proposed to inform discussions around the design and planning of a project and provide the baseline for future place-based monitoring. The tool comprises: a Study Area Survey and one or more River Surveys, which provide measurements to generate metrics and information to support assessments of Habitat and Biodiversity, Landscape, Amenity, and Heritage. Data are stored, analysed, retrieved, shared, and displayed through a web-based information system. It is intended that a PlaceMarker Survey will be conducted on at least three occasions in the lifetime of a project or asset: pre-inception of a project to understand the broad environmental baseline and assist in the design of a scheme; immediately post-project to confirm the “as-built condition”; and post-recovery from the works to monitor the environmental response to interventions at the site. Tracking the assessments over time informs evaluations of environmental enhancements and supports decision-making around adaptive management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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26 pages, 3620 KiB  
Article
Strategic Design and Delivery of Integrated Catchment Restoration Monitoring: Emerging Lessons from a 12-Year Study in the UK
by Chris Spray, Andrew Black, David Bradley, Chris Bromley, Fiona Caithness, Jennifer Dodd, James Hunt, Alan MacDonald, Roberto Martinez Romero, Tommy McDermott, Hamish Moir, Lorraine Quinn, Helen Reid and Hamish Robertson
Water 2022, 14(15), 2305; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14152305 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2656
Abstract
Despite growing interest in river and catchment restoration, including a focus on nature-based solutions, assessing effectiveness of restoration programmes continues to prove a challenge. The development of the Eddleston Water project, the Scottish Government’s empirical study of the impact of implementing natural flood [...] Read more.
Despite growing interest in river and catchment restoration, including a focus on nature-based solutions, assessing effectiveness of restoration programmes continues to prove a challenge. The development of the Eddleston Water project, the Scottish Government’s empirical study of the impact of implementing natural flood management measures on flood risk and habitat restoration, provides the opportunity to review restoration monitoring at a strategic and operational level for this long-running catchment restoration programme. The project has implemented an extensive range of restoration measures along the river and across the 69 km2 catchment. This paper reviews the monitoring strategy and assesses both how the monitoring network developed meets its strategic aims and what subsequent changes were made in monitoring design and implementation. Covering hydrology, hydromorphology and ecology, we explore how all three are integrated to provide a comprehensive assessment of restoration success. Lessons to help inform other river rehabilitation monitoring programmes include the importance of a scoping study and capturing the full range of environmental variables pre-restoration; the limitations of BACI designs; and the need to focus integrated monitoring on a process-based framework and impact cascade, whilst also covering the full trajectory of recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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15 pages, 3511 KiB  
Article
Putting the “Beaver” Back in Beverley Brook: Rapid Shifts in Community Composition following the Restoration of a Degraded Urban River
by Daniel M. Perkins, Toby Hull, Niamh Bubb, Alex Cunningham, Rory Glackin, Thomas Glen, Stacey Smith and Bella Davies
Water 2021, 13(24), 3530; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243530 - 09 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2942
Abstract
Widespread habitat degradation has caused dramatic declines in aquatic biodiversity. Reconfiguring channels and adding physical structures to rivers has become common practice in order to reinstate natural processes and restore biodiversity. However, the effectiveness of such measures is often questioned, especially in urban [...] Read more.
Widespread habitat degradation has caused dramatic declines in aquatic biodiversity. Reconfiguring channels and adding physical structures to rivers has become common practice in order to reinstate natural processes and restore biodiversity. However, the effectiveness of such measures is often questioned, especially in urban settings where overriding factors (e.g., water quality) might constrain biotic responses to increased habitat heterogeneity. We monitored invertebrate and fish communities before and up to five years after extensive restoration of Beverley Brook, a small, urban river flowing through a Royal Park in London, UK. Total invertebrate density was 5–148% higher with restoration across the monitoring period, and there was an increase in evenness but not invertebrate richness. Riverflies (Ephmemeroptera and Trichoptera) and crustaceans (Amphipoda, Asellidae) showed marked increases in density with restoration, suggesting improved flow, enhanced water quality, and greater quantity of basal resources. Fish biomass increased by 282% with restoration as did fish richness and the average body mass of three common fish species. Our results provide evidence for the effectiveness of common restoration methods in increasing standing stocks across trophic levels, from basal resources to apex predators. However, we primarily observed changes in the density of existing taxa rather than the development of novel assemblages, suggesting that large-scale factors, such as water quality and the lack of adequate source populations, might be important for understanding changes in biodiversity following river restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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16 pages, 3307 KiB  
Article
Defining Recovery Potential in River Restoration: A Biological Data-Driven Approach
by Martin A. Wilkes, Morwenna Mckenzie, Marc Naura, Laura Allen, Mike Morris, Marco Van De Wiel, Alex J. Dumbrell, Alessia Bani, Craig Lashford, Tom Lavers and Judy England
Water 2021, 13(23), 3339; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13233339 - 24 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2196
Abstract
Scientists and practitioners working on river restoration have made progress on understanding the recovery potential of rivers from geomorphological and engineering perspectives. We now need to build on this work to gain a better understanding of the biological processes involved in river restoration. [...] Read more.
Scientists and practitioners working on river restoration have made progress on understanding the recovery potential of rivers from geomorphological and engineering perspectives. We now need to build on this work to gain a better understanding of the biological processes involved in river restoration. Environmental policy agendas are focusing on nature recovery, reigniting debates about the use of “natural” reference conditions as benchmarks for ecosystem restoration. We argue that the search for natural or semi-natural analogues to guide restoration planning is inappropriate due to the absence of contemporary reference conditions. With a catchment-scale case study on the invertebrate communities of the Warwickshire Avon, a fifth-order river system in England, we demonstrate an alternative to the reference condition approach. Under our model, recovery potential is quantified based on the gap between observed biodiversity at a site and the biodiversity predicted to occur in that location under alternative management scenarios. We predict that commonly applied restoration measures such as reduced nutrient inputs and the removal of channel resectioning could be detrimental to invertebrate diversity, if applied indiscriminately and without other complementary measures. Instead, our results suggest considerable potential for increases in biodiversity when restoration measures are combined in a way that maximises biodiversity within each water body. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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23 pages, 25545 KiB  
Article
Evidence of Taxonomic and Functional Recovery of Macroinvertebrate Communities Following River Restoration
by Judy England, Chloe Hayes, James White and Tim Johns
Water 2021, 13(16), 2239; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162239 - 17 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2214
Abstract
River ecosystems have been heavily degraded globally due to channel hydromorphological modifications or alterations to catchment-wide processes. Restoration actions aimed at addressing these changes and restoring ecological integrity are increasing, but evidence of the effectiveness of these actions is variable. Using a rare [...] Read more.
River ecosystems have been heavily degraded globally due to channel hydromorphological modifications or alterations to catchment-wide processes. Restoration actions aimed at addressing these changes and restoring ecological integrity are increasing, but evidence of the effectiveness of these actions is variable. Using a rare 7-year before-after-control-impact (BACI) study of restoration of a lowland groundwater-fed river in England, UK, we explore changes in the macroinvertebrate community following the removal of impoundments and channel narrowing to aid restoration of physical processes. Restoration activity prompted significant taxonomic and functional responses of benthic invertebrate communities in the 4 years post-restoration. Specifically, significant gains in taxonomic and functional richness were evident following restoration, although corresponding evenness and diversity measures did not mirror these trends. Restoration activities prompted a shift to more rheophilic taxa and associated traits matching the physical changes to the channel and habitat composition. Temporal changes were clearer for taxonomic compositions compared to the functional properties of macroinvertebrate communities, indicating a functional redundancy effect of new colonists inhabiting restored reaches following restoration. The results highlight the value of long-term BACI studies in river restoration assessments, as well as project appraisals incorporating both taxonomic and functional observations. We highlight the urgent need of such studies to provide evidence to inform effective river restoration strategies to address future changes such as adaption to climate change and the biodiversity crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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11 pages, 1289 KiB  
Article
Effects of Habitat Restoration on Fish Communities in Urban Streams
by Anna M. Lavelle, Michael A. Chadwick, Daniel D. A. Chadwick, Eleri G. Pritchard and Nicolas R. Bury
Water 2021, 13(16), 2170; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162170 - 07 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3537
Abstract
Geomorphological alterations, hydrological disconnectivity and water pollution are among the dominant pressures affecting ecological integrity in urban streams. River restoration approaches often involve utilising in-stream structures to encourage flow heterogeneity and promote habitat diversity. However, few studies examine the success of such projects. [...] Read more.
Geomorphological alterations, hydrological disconnectivity and water pollution are among the dominant pressures affecting ecological integrity in urban streams. River restoration approaches often involve utilising in-stream structures to encourage flow heterogeneity and promote habitat diversity. However, few studies examine the success of such projects. In this study, fish density, biomass and community structure at paired restored and unrestored reaches across five tributaries of the River Thames were examined. Fish density varied among rivers and reaches but was generally higher at restored sites. Restored sites also exhibited higher overall fish biomass, attributed mainly to the presence of brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) at the River Wandle. Despite higher density and biomass values at restored sites, the community structure analysis did not identify strong links between either river or restoration status using either species-specific density or biomass. Our results highlight that although reach-scale restoration can lead to localised increases in species density and biomass, this may chiefly be due to aggregation owing to preferential habitats created through restoration activities at these sites. Over larger spatial scales, significant improvements to species richness and diversity are likely to be limited due to the poor water quality and disconnected nature of these urban streams. Whilst reach-scale restoration clearly has the potential to provide preferential habitats for fish species, future efforts should focus on improving connectivity for fish across the wider Thames basin network by removing barriers to passage, improving water quality, restoring watershed processes and creating well-connected, diverse habitats which can facilitate the survival of a wide array of fish species throughout their life cycle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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14 pages, 2655 KiB  
Article
Invertebrate Responses to Restoration across Benthic and Hyporheic Stream Compartments
by Anne L. Robertson, Daniel M. Perkins, Judy England and Tim Johns
Water 2021, 13(7), 996; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13070996 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3118
Abstract
River restoration is a multi-billion-dollar business, yet it is unclear whether benthic community health, which is routinely monitored, can be used as a proxy for the health of the hyporheos. Applying a Before-After-Control-Impact approach to a UK case study, we compared the effects [...] Read more.
River restoration is a multi-billion-dollar business, yet it is unclear whether benthic community health, which is routinely monitored, can be used as a proxy for the health of the hyporheos. Applying a Before-After-Control-Impact approach to a UK case study, we compared the effects of removing an impoundment on the hyporheos with effects on the benthos. We compared invertebrate biological traits that we expected to respond to the restoration. We constructed sample-size based diversity curves and determined β-diversity between compartments and reaches. Two years post-restoration, hyporheic taxon richness was significantly lower in the restored reach compared to the control. However, three years post-restoration taxon richness was significantly higher in the impact reach. The composition of the control and impact reach hyporheos was most dissimilar at the first sampling time point post-restoration and at this time there was a universal decrease in the relative abundance of burrowing organisms respiring through gills. We did not detect a signal of restoration on benthic assemblage diversity and composition, perhaps because reach-scale restorations can be overwhelmed by catchment-scale disturbances. Thus, the hyporheos and the benthos responded differently to restoration. Given the importance of the hyporheic zone in the provision of ecosystem function and services, it is clear that it should be included in future monitoring protocols that aim to assess river restoration success. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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Review

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22 pages, 1477 KiB  
Review
Best Practices for Monitoring and Assessing the Ecological Response to River Restoration
by Judy England, Natalie Angelopoulos, Susan Cooksley, Jennifer Dodd, Andrew Gill, David Gilvear, Matthew Johnson, Marc Naura, Matthew O’Hare, Angus Tree, Jennifer Wheeldon and Martin A. Wilkes
Water 2021, 13(23), 3352; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13233352 - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 6117
Abstract
Nature-based solutions are widely advocated for freshwater ecosystem conservation and restoration. As increasing amounts of river restoration are undertaken, the need to understand the ecological response to different measures and where measures are best applied becomes more pressing. It is essential that appraisal [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions are widely advocated for freshwater ecosystem conservation and restoration. As increasing amounts of river restoration are undertaken, the need to understand the ecological response to different measures and where measures are best applied becomes more pressing. It is essential that appraisal methods follow a sound scientific approach. Here, experienced restoration appraisal experts review current best practice and academic knowledge to make recommendations and provide guidance that will enable practitioners to gather and analyse meaningful data, using scientific rigor to appraise restoration success. What should be monitored depends on the river type and the type and scale of intervention. By understanding how habitats are likely to change we can anticipate what species, life stages, and communities are likely to be affected. Monitoring should therefore be integrated and include both environmental/habitat and biota assessments. A robust scientific approach to monitoring and appraisal is resource intensive. We recommend that appraisal efforts be directed to where they will provide the greatest evidence, including ‘flagship’ restoration schemes for detailed long-term monitoring. Such an approach will provide the evidence needed to understand which restoration measures work where and ensure that they can be applied with confidence elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue River Restoration: Monitoring, Appraisal and Management)
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