Department Surface Waters - Research and Management

River Restoration

Channelization, water pollution, hydropower generation – rivers belong to the most heavily impaired ecosystems worldwide. At the same time rivers are highly dynamic systems of particular biodiversity. Numerous river restoration projects will be implemented in Switzerland over the coming decades. What are the challenges and what degree of improvement is possible?

We tackle open questions from practical river management in the framework of the Swiss Rivers program. In our transdisciplinary research projects we focus on the following objectives:   

  • Improving the data basis: e.g. by developing concepts for cross-project comparisons of river restoration measures at the national scale
  • Investigating and developing restoration measures: e.g. by improving our understanding of the interplay between structure and function of restored river systems
  • Supporting a sustainable management of river systems: e.g. by contributing to solutions to reconcile conservation and exploitation of river systems


Current Projects

How does the fish community change in a widening? And how does the riparian vegetation react after deculverting?
Collaborative learning for hydropeaking mitigation
Do fish and invertebrates like the Rolling Stones?
We use Switzerland’s unique record of historical maps for studying landscape change over the past 150 years.

Terminated Projekts

How does such compromised bed-load transport affect fish in terms of their feeding and habitat? And what measures can be taken to restore a river's bed-load regime?
4’000 river kilometers will be rehabilitated in Switzerland over the course of the coming 80 years – a unique opportunity for learning!
What do we get from enhancing river structure and function?
Welchen Einfluss haben unterschiedliche Habitatsansprüche auf die Modellresultate? Wie beeinflusst Morphologie die ökologische Wirkung hydrologischer Schwallsanierungsmassnahmen?
Les cours d'eau font partie des écosystèmes les plus riches en espèces du monde. Mais en même temps ils sont mis sous forte pression, p. ex. du fait des aménagements et de l'exploita- tion de la force hydraulique.