Euro-limpacs Deliverables

ABSTRACT - DELIVERABLE 125

Report on the recovery of the Becva River (Czech Republic)

The Czech Republic has in past decades been subject to a significant impact as a result of over−exploitation, which has had detrimental effects on vitally important functions of the landscape. Over one million hectares of soil were drained during 40 years before 1990. In the early fifties there were 1,300,000 thousands of hectares of wetland in the Czech Republic. Currently this has fallen to 350,000. Water utilization, despite a permanent deficit within the Czech Republic, is 37 % of total sources.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is milestone in terms of the protection of European aquatic ecosystems is implementation of. This directive established the aim of achieving good surface water status by 2015. For the purposes of classification of ecological status for rivers, the following elements are included: (i) biological quality elements − phytoplankton, macrophytes, phytobenthos, benthic invertebrates and fish, (ii) hydromorphological quality elements ? hydrological regime, river continuity, morphological conditions and (iii) physico−chemical quality elements. This means that when the ecological status of rivers is assessed, biological and hydromorphological characteristics of aquatic ecosystems have to be taken into account, not simply water chemistry parameters (as was the previous case). This is a very important shift in watercourse management and protection practices.

In connection with this fact it is also clear that more attention in the planning of river restoration projects is required to improve the hydromorphological conditions of rivers, as these are likely to suffer the greatest ecological consequences. This report describes river regulation in the Czech Republic in the last century and, in more detail, the situation in the Becva River catchment as an example of natural restoration after a large flood.

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