Biodiversity recovery following delta-wide measures for flood risk reduction

Biodiversity changes in the embanked floodplains of the Rhine delta between 1997 and 2012 (Source: Adapted from Figure 1, Straatsma et al. 2018,


Biodiversity declined markedly over the past 150 years,with the biodiversity loss in fluvial ecosystems exceeding the global average. River restoration now aims at flood safety while enhancing biodiversity and has had success locally. However, at the scale of large river distributaries, the recovery remained elusive.We quantify changes in biodiversity of protected and endangered species over 15 years of river restoration in the embanked floodplains of an entire river delta. We distinguish seven taxonomic groups and four functional groups in more than 2 million field observations of species presence. Of all 179 fluvial floodplain sections examined, 137 showed an increase in biodiversity, particularly for fast-spreading species. Birds and mammals showed the largest increase, that is, +13 and +3 percentage point saturation of their potential based on habitat. This shows that flood risk interventions were successfully combined with enhancement of biodiversity, whereas flood stage decreased (−24 cm).

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Journal publication

Straatsma, M. W., Bloecker, A. M., Lenders, H. J. R., Leuven, R. S. E. W., & Kleinhans, M. G. (2017). Biodiversity recovery following delta-wide measures for flood risk reduction. Science Advances, 3(11).


Related dataset

Related dataset to this publication is available as supplementary material at and includes a detailed description of the BIOSAFE model; details of the BIOSAFE input; a list of parameter abbreviations and a excel file with BIOSAFE input and output.

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Search categories

Management phase: Implementation & Monitoring |

Management goals: Nature conservation |

Temporal scale: Recent evolution (1-10years) | Yearly measurements |

Data-collection methods: Participatory monitoring | Process-based modeling |

Related storylines

Biodiversity recovery and flood risk adaptation at delta scale

Menno Straatsma

We calculated biodiversity scores to show the recovery from 15 years flood risk adaptation that consider nature requirements.

Last modified: 28/08/2018


4th February 2018
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Menno Straatsma

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