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FLOBAR2 Annual Meeting - Angermunde - Minutes

FLOBAR2 Annual Meeting - Angermunde - Minutes

13-16 March 2003

En route to the Lower Oder National Park

En route to the Lower Oder National Park

Left to right: Luc Lambs (T), Jacky Girel (G), Shaojung Xiong (U), Philippe Belleudy (G), Etienne Muller (T), Adrian Hayes (C), Stephane Petit (Cl), Nadia Barsoum (C/T/U), Francine Hughes (C), Christer Nilsson (U), Matts Johansson (U), Tim Moss (B), Jochen Monstadt (B), Lissy Delport (B), Keith Richards (C). (Key: G = Grenoble, C = Cambridge, B = Berlin, U = Umeå, T = Toulouse, Cl = Clermont). Photo by Yveline Lambs. Also present at the meeting and/or the field trip: Tina Swierczynski (B), Manuela Siener (B), Axel Klaphake (B)

Thursday 13 March

WP1 Discussion (Francine Hughes)

Those involved in the production of the WP1 "Guidelines" document met for a day before the plenary meeting. Francine illustrated examples of the style of document being proposed, and illustrated this with sample pages prepared by the Cartography Unit in Cambridge.

Discussion by the sub-group focused on the structure of the Guidelines document; on the context in which it was presented; and on the details of the content.

Much of the day was spent working in pairs on further contributions to the writing of the content of the document.

Friday 14 March

The meeting began with a welcome to FLOBAR2 members from Tim, and an introduction to the location (Angermunde near the Oder, which was to be the subject of a field visit on Saturday). Keith also welcomed everyone, noting that this would be the final opportunity for members of FLOBAR2 to meet as a complete group, since the subject of the discussion would be to summarise the procedures for completing the Final Report; and to provide opportunities to discuss the scientific content of all of the Work Packages.

Reporting - Francine Hughes

It was noted that the Final Report will require an equivalent to the Management Reports produced at every 6-month stage, plus an Annual Report for each Work Package for the last year (up to about four pages for each), plus an overall project Report for each Work Package, and the deliverables.

A Final Report thus consists of:

Section 1 - A Management Report (this is a short Report on the last 6 months of the project, of about 10 pages in length in total). the sub-headings of this part of the Report are as in every other 6-month report: Objectives: Scientific/Technical progress by Work Package; Milestones and Deliverables; Deviations from the Work Plan; Co-ordination activities; Management problems.

Section 2 - an Executive Summary for the last 12 months

This is about 2 pages in length and reports Objectives; Scientific Achievements; Socio-economic relevance and policy implications; Conclusions; Keywords; and all project Publications. This will be completed by Keith and Francine.

Section 3 - a Detailed Progress Report by Work Package for the last 12 months

Section 4 - the Technological Implementation Plans

Section 5 - an Executive Summary for the entire project period

Section 6 - Report for each Work Package for the entire project period

Thus is a report of up to 50 pages overall (and therefore will be about 5-6 pages for each WP). It includes the following sections: 6.1 Background; 6.2 Scientific & socio-economic objectives; 6.3 Methodology, scientific achievements, deliverables; 6.4 Socio-economic relevance etc; 6.5 Dissemination and exploitation; 6.6 Main literature produced.

Also required will be the Project deliverables.

A short guide is available at: (Guidelines for Reporting, in PDF or WORD document forms).

TIP - Keith Richards

Keith summarised again the structure of the TIP document that forms Section 4 of the Report, noting that the Cambridge and Umea groups had been producing TIPs at each Annual Stage, but that each "result" and "partner" was required to produce a TIP relating to either their outputs or products, or to their dissemination strategies.

He noted that the TIP forms were slightly different now, and recommended partners and Work Package leaders to consult the web at: , where scrolling the page leads to a downloadable version of the TIP document and its guidelines.

WP1 - Francine Hughes

Francine reported on progress with the Guidelines document, and requested comments on the draft document and its layout. She also reported on the work undertaken on the previous day.

She noted that Section 5 had been restructured into two sections: a new section was to be entitled "How do floodplain forests work?", with sub-sections on Hydrological, Geomorphological and Biological aspects.

A new Section 6 was to be called "How do we translate knowledge into practice?". This would cover "Key Needs" and "Practical Options" (including "Collateral advantages for River Managers"), and would note the different issues involved when working at different scales - the "Catchment - Reach - Site" scales).

In this section, the "Key Needs" were discussed under the headings of "Creation of New Open Sediment Sites"; "Varied Flow Regimes"; "Seedling-Friendly Water Tables"; and "Different Types of Debris". Each of these themes was then related to particular practical options (eg, managing flows, setback flood defences, opening side arms).

There was discussion of the issue of the language used in the document, which would influence its dissemination in Europe. It was noted that there was no budget to cover translation costs, but that it may be possible to seek additional EC funding for this.

Francine also reported on the WP1 Workshop with practitioners which took place in May 2002 in Cambridge.

Willows on the Oder River floodplain
Willows on the Oder River floodplain

WP7 Tim Moss, Manuela Siener, Jochen Monstadt, Axel Klaphake

Tim reported that there were six case studies of restoration projects (2 in each of Germany, UK, France). The focus had been on "old generation" and "new generation" projects, which were distinguished by the fact that the "old projects" were site-based, single sector projects, with few actors, a simple structure, rapid development, and a limited link to policy. The "new projects" by contrast were linked to recent policy contexts and were therefore more complex, multi-sector projects, which require shared funding and multiple agents, and were often difficult to start up.

The Long Eau, NE UK (Tim). This was a very small project, of 100ha, with a nature conservation benefit plus some flood management benefit. Three individual actors (Env Agency, farmer, Countryside Comm) and two landowners had combined informally, and the EA member had had £50k to spend without strings attached (now very rare). It was an agri-environmental scheme, with support of the local Drainage Board, partly bought by paying for their work on dykes. There was a high degree of autonomy, good personal relationships rather than policy driver, no planning contact or public involvement, no monitoring. Current regulatory environment would make this project impossible today.

Rheinvorland Sud, SW Germany (Manuela). A 1600ha project on the Rhine, developed originally in the 1980s following WWF studies. There were few actors (between 10 and 15), and when funding became available, it just went ahead. Finance was obtained from a Daimler-Benz fund - linked to compensatory payment for opening a new plant); The legal instrument required was simply water authority permission; and this linked to an informal instrument provided by the personal contacts. There was little interaction with larger-scale policy - especially because the project was not reliant on government funding.

Bourret, Garonne River, France (Axel). Here, alluvial forest was decreasing and isolated; so a project was made to recreate (natural) alluvial forest by reconnecting an old side-arm to the main river, with an additional aim to develop recreation. The area was <100ha, and the mainly biodiversity target (including fish species) involved no flood management issues, so there was little link to policy. Floodplain here is public domain property, so the project was simplified because the area affected was limited to this zone, and land ownership was not a problem. There was weak local organisation and finance, few actors, few instruments (Natura 2000, funding, forestry plans).

River Parrett, Somerset, UK (Tim). This was an early integrated catchment flood management project, with many actors, long term aims, and multi-purpose objectives (flood defence, water level regulation, land use change, nature conservation, rural development). It required a strong partnership to overcome conflict between farmers and the conservation lobby (5 lead organisations, 14 others, high political profile). The internal structure involved formal elements - the Parrett Catchment Forum, a steering group, a full-time project officer with secretary. Multiple funding sources were linked to different objectives - flexible funding packages (paying farmers to retain flood water). But - little visible consequence on the ground - not clear what the role of PCP is (co-ordination, fund-raiser, strategy development, policy delivery).

Lenzen, Elbe, Germany (Jochen). This project involved dyke relocation, to restore 400 ha of floodplain ecosystem. There were complex multi-sectoral goals (nature conservation, flood prevention, regional development), and cross-sectoral linkages. There were also multi-level agency linkages (EU funds, Federal, regional and local funding - EU funds to buy land, Federal funds for a research project). Substantial funds were needed for the dyke relocation. Various instruments were necessary - to cover funding, definition of protected areas, flood management, agri-environmental elements. The project had a complex, time consuming implementation process. Funding was sought in 1992 (from the EU LIFE programme), and in 2002 some funds were released because of a flood event. However, it will probably take until 2006 to realise the project.

La Bassée, Seine, France, W of Nogen (Axel). This large project covers 16,000 ha, with a large area for flood protection, groundwater protection, and also an important resource for gravel. Still vulnerable to flooding upstream but not downstream because of channelisation. It is expected to restore flooding into polders in the downstream reach to prevent flooding at the confluence with the Yonne. Although primarily for flood control to protect humans, the project also invovles ecological restoration. Other multiple goals include; existing economic interests (gravel, agriculture) and ecological interests. Complex cross-sectoral linkages exist, and the project needs time-consuming co-ordination. A key actor is an inter-departmental co-ordinator. Multiple funding sources are also needed, because it is a large project - 150-160m euros needed in total. This requires compensation measures, land acquisition, co-operation with the gravel industry. There are different perceptions of the potential ecological gains from the project.

Note that the principles of integrated, multiple-use, cross-sectoral linkage are OK, but result in delays and increasing frustration. The studies have used a common framework to analyse the case studies - descriptive overview, analysis (principal drivers and constraints; selected emblematic issues), policy development and project management conclusions. Discussion considered whether the "old" v "new" distinction was entirely appropriate, since there are scale differences as well (and a pejorative implication, perhaps, in the use of "old"?).

Framework 6 Keith Richards

Keith reported on the progress to date with the preparation of an FP6 proposal. It was intended that this would have 6 Work Blocks, whose titles would be: WB1 Channel, floodplain and ecosystem dynamics; WB2 Floodplain ecological patterns and processes; WB3 Flow management and ecosystem resilience; WB4 Floodplain services and values; WB5 Institutional structures for floodplain management; and WB6 Cross-cutting issues. Leaders of these were to be Keith himself, Klement Tockner, Christer Nilsson, Josefina Maestu and Claudia Wohl-Pastl. Currently the Work Block leaders were organising the internal Work Packages, of which there was an average of about 4 (making about 24 Work Packages, and 30-40 partners).

There were on-going discussions about a title and acronym, and about the co-ordination of the project, but there was a strong intention to submit a proposal by the deadline of April 8th. It was hoped that, if this was a successful application, it would provide an opportunity for members of FLOBAR2 to continue to work together in multi-disciplinary European-funded research.

Saturday 15 March

WP2 Luc Lambs

Luc noted the objective of WP2 in the final year - to compare the water consumption of poplars at Grenoble and Toulouse, using the different techniques of the two groups (leaf water potential, stomatal conductance and transpiration measurements by Gérard Marigo, hydrological variations, dendrochronology and sap flow measurements by Luc).

He described the installation for sap flow measurement - small holes with thermocouple insertion, to measure sap flow from temperature decrease between thermocouples. Stomatal closure is measured by a gas flux method on enclosed leaves, and its results show how the tree regulates its evapotranspiration by this means - populus nigra does this, for example. Some other trees increase hydraulic resistance in trunk and branches to reduce water loss. Some trees are vulnerable to cavitation (breakage of water column) and this causes degradation of wood. Populus nigra regulates its water use by localising cavitation to the ends of branches - leaves go yellow, die back occurs at ends of branches, but this is recoverable by new growth at end of drought (and the tree can survive for 40 years of drought). This is important in terms of judging the relative water demands of different floodplain vegetation - it implies that drought tolerant woody species use much less water than might be assumed).

Experimental results reported related to measurements on poplars in the Isère (moist) and Drac (dry) sites - water consumption measured by sap flow device. Strong difference is shown (c 2 dm3 dm-2 in wet site, and half this in dry site, with both showing decline through the dry season. There is also a detailed record over short periods - sunny and rainy days, showing close response in water demand to the meteorological conditions.

A consequence is seen in tree ring width variation, which is correlated with the annual water consumption - 5cm of tree rings covers 50 years in the Drac case, but a few years in the wetter location. Note that the tree rings also respond to river management - ring thickness decreased in Drac cases after dams impounded in 1959.

WP3 Mats Johansson

Mats reported the completion of the experiment in Sweden where turves were moved around on a riparian gradient (although the group will probably continue with the experiment over a longer time scale). He also reported on a decomposition experiment, and on the measured soil properties at the experimental site on the Vindel River.

Elevations range at the experimental site from sites flooded about once every 10 years, through middle elevation with herbs, to the lowest elevation near the summer low water level (sedges, species poor). The study examined the dynamics of vegetation, biomass, species richness at the three levels and on turves moved between levels. Water level variation over three years indicated a good variation in length of flooding between sites (none at top, 3 months at bottom of range). The decomposition experiment was only in the last year, which was a dry year, so the fastest decomposition was at the highest level because of denser vegetation and local moisture retention (not, as would expect, at lowest level, because this was not flooded during experiment). The experiment also examined the effect of litter addition.

Low elevation plots experience species enrichment, while high elevation plots experience lowering of species richness. Biomass is lowered at most sites in the first year, partly because of movement itself, partly because of flooding; but in the second year, biomass increased. In terms of species richness, the movement effect tends to be lost after c 3 years.

Rate of change of species richness depends on the degree of hydrological change (height range over which moved), and on original richness. High turves lose richness when moved to lowest level, but recover quickly (especially in dry year). Low elevation turves grow less, but are readily colonised because more gaps, so gain species richness quickly. Litter generally tends to suppress vegetation.

Conclusions were linked to the original conceptual model; links between soil moisture and decomposition are more complex than initially thought; but otherwise the links between litter decomposition, litter accumulation, biomass production and species richness are as in the original model. Species appear to add biomass faster at lower elevations, so appear to adapt to changing conditions effectively.

Mats reported that Shaojun had carried out a follow-up set of measurements at the Wicken Fen site in the UK to complete the experiment there.

Willows on the Oder River floodplain
Some members of FLOBAR2 take a break from work on the shores of the lake at Angermunde. From left to right: Tina Swierczynski, Etienne Muller, Adrian Hayes, Christer Nilsson, Tim Moss, Francine Hughes, Jacky Girel. Photo by Keith Richards.

WP4 Francine Hughes and Mats Johansson

Francine reported on experiments conducted on the controls of growth rates in Salix myrsinifolia, especially the effects of sex ratios. This was an experiment linked to the large scale field studies on sex ratio variations along and between rivers reported at the Umeå meeting. In the last year, a laboratory experiment was conducted in Cambridge with 8 rhizopods, and with 4 water table regimes, and with soil texture as in field sites in Sweden. Water table treatments were 2cm/day decline plus weekly rainfall; a fluctuating regime of 3 days dry, one day wet; a sharp drop and drought; and a less severe lowering plus weekly rain. Fortnightly shoot length measurements, then shoot dry weight, root length, root dry weight after harvesting at end of experiment. Also some results on 18O and 13C in leaves (Howard Griffiths, Plant Sciences, Cambridge - results not yet available).

Mats reported Analysis of Variance of the root weight and shoot weight data. In the analysis the treatments were - water table regime, source of cutting (two different rivers), sex; cutting size, water regime, origin and source of cutting were all significant effects (some increasing over time); sex was also important but mainly for shoot weight (female cuttings had higher shoot weight at the end of the experiment). Since cutting diameter influenced eventual shoot and root weights, it was included as a treatment in the ANOVA.

More data analysis was to be conducted on the data.

WP5 Nadia Barsoum

Nadia reported a study of clonality in naturally regenerating populations of Populus nigra, along Drome and Garonne, focussing on the Garonne study which had been carried out in the last year. This study was carried out with Etienne Muller in Toulouse, and with the Institute of Grassland Research in Wales.

In this study, there were sampled stands in three age categories. The research measured ages of individuals using tree rings, and sampled 15 trees per stand selected by a nearest neighbour method. Also measured were: degree of clumped growth; inclination of main trunk, to measure disturbance; height of tallest shoot; and stem diameter at base. Cuttings were collected in the winter, then the leaves were analysed when they sprouted in the spring; this was followed by genetic measurements. Genotypes of each DNA sample were scored using 5 pairs of micro-satellite markers.

A significant increase in stem diameter occurred between young, middle and old-aged stands. Middle-aged stands have most inclined trunks indicating high and recent disturbance.

The number of cloned genotypes in the stands was fewer in the younger sites, greater in the older sites. There were 2-3 identical genotypes in each stand age (indicating localised clonal re-sprouting). A significant correlation occurred between trunk inclination and frequency of identical genotypes. Clonal recruitment is significant, and increases in the older stands, and this is possibly because of a longer period of disturbance.

Thus genotypic diversity appears to be not strongly dependent on levels of flow and channel management, although it may require several generations to gain a full understanding of evolution of clonality.

WP6 Philippe Belleudy, Stephane Petit, Keith Richards

This WP is concerned with the effect of vegetation on inundation and channel change (transport, erosion and sedimentation).

Keith began with a summary of the valuable data collected by Rachel Horn, Adrian Hayes and himself using conductivity and dye tracing methods (with 21 conductivity sensor and three video cameras) at the Wienfluss site in Vienna, managed as part of the activity of the RIPFOR project. The results suggest that it is possible to estimate floodplain tree roughness from the density and pattern of "rigid" stems, but that the bed surface roughness was often a larger effect on the total flow resistance.

Philippe summarised the work done at the Brignoud site on the Isère - measurements of vegetation pattern and evolution (by Jacky Girel); and of water level (which has risen by 1m for a given discharge). Data were presented on flow patterns from vegetation alignment, and on sedimentation rates and topographic change. Patterns of deposition amount and grain size, differ between 1999 and 2000, probably because elevation of surface has changed. The Grenoble team had also dug a trench and analysed the varying thickness of layers (produced by annual floods) and their grain size, and were able to relate the layers to specific floods in the last 15 years.

Over a 50km reach of the Isère above Grenoble, Philippe reported a sediment budget study which separated the lower main channel (gravel) and the upper cross-section; the lower part shows slight upstream erosion and downstream deposition (changing overall slope), while the upper part of the cross-section shows aggradation, especially in the most vegetated sections - this is because of deposition of fine sediment in these reaches.

1-D modelling was undertaken over the 50km reach, but with roughness variable across each section. This was used to explore scenarios; removing vegetation on the islands results in a 20cm reduction in stage; cutting the vegetation and removing the fine sediment of the island, results in a maximum stage reduction of about 50-60cm - so vegetation is partly directly responsible for increased stages, but mainly acts indirectly through its effect on sedimentation.

Stephane reported on the Allier studies conducted with Jean-Luc Peiry/ These are longer-term assessments using old maps and aerial photographs (the latter over 50 years). 8 categories of land cover have been defined and mapped, and the mapped sequences how recent (post-1980) recovery of forest and gravel bar extent as a result of reduction of gravel mining. Floodplain turnover is about 40% in 50 years, especially in the downstream sedimentation zone. This study results in a very detailed GIS database on land cover changes in the floodplain zone, anmd on morphological properties of the channel, and the changes are being examined against the hydrological records.

Field excursion (Tim Moss)

The team departed after lunch for a field trip to the Lower Oder National Park, where the Director of the Park met the group at the Park Information Centre and explained the history of the lower reaches of the River Oder, and the aims of the National Park and its relationship with a similar park on the Polish areas of the floodplain.


At Dinner, toasts were made to absent friends (Gérard, Jean-Luc, Mara, Mark, Thomas, Manuela, Franck, Hélène, Rachel, Catharine and Stew); to the intellectual strengths and firm friendships that have been fostered amongst the FLOBAR2 team; and to Hartmut Barth in Brussels.