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Third Meeting, Umeå,14-17 March 2002

Third Meeting, Umeå,14-17 March 2002


Those present

From left to right: Etienne Muller (T), Tim Moss (B), Manuela Siener (B), Rachel Horn (C), Jochen Monstadt (B), Mara Rossoni (M), Mark Winfield (M), Keith Richards (C), Philippe Belleudy (G), Francine Hughes (C), Peter Edwards (Z), Mats Johansson (U), Christer Nilsson (U), Jacky Girel (G), Shaojun Xiong (U), Stew Rood (L). Photograph taken by Nadia Barsoum (T): missing from photograph but present at meeting; Gerard Marigo (G). (Key: G = Grenoble, C = Cambridge, L = Lethbridge, B = Berlin, U = Umeå, T = Toulouse, M = Milan, Z = Zurich)

Thursday 14 March

Work Package 1 meeting (Francine, Christer, Keith, Tim, Stew)

Those involved in WP1 met throughout Thursday in order to discuss (a) the Draft Guidelines Document, and (b) the Workshop planned to take place in Cambridge in May.

The Guidelines Document (The Flooded Forest). The overall structure of the Document (Part A and Part B) was presented by Francine and approved. Part A is The Background, and covers definitions of floodplain woodlands, their distribution in Europe, discusses losses and continuing threats, reasons for caring about this, and the context for the development of interest in restoration. Some re-organization of the material to enhance the logic and impact was agreed. Part B considers The Building Blocks for Restoration, and identifies the requirements for sustainable functionality of floodplain woodland. This (major) Section was considered basically acceptable, with some minor adjustment, and it was noted that all FLOBAR2 members were to be asked to contribute at least 200-word items in April.

The Workshop (May 16-17, Cambridge). The Workshop will involve end-users (the UK User Group, European and other overseas “users”), and the main WP1 contributors of FLOBAR2. It will be a focused and intensive meeting limited to about 25 participants. There will be a review of the Draft Guidelines Document, and a discussion around four main themes, which it was agreed should be fairly broadly defined and reasonably contested, and should cover: (i) The value(s) of floodplain woodland (forest v forestry); (ii) Forests and flooding – costs or benefits? (iii) Institutional constraints and opportunities; and (iv) Can we use flows to manage and restore woodland in Europe?

Friday 15 March

Introduction (Christer, Keith)

Christer welcomed everyone to the Vindelälvens Hotell conference facility, including Peter Edwards (Geobotanical Institute, ETH Zurich) who was attending as an external observer, invited by Keith and Francine to report to Brussels on progress and management of FLOBAR2. He also introduced a new Work Package (WP8), the deliverable of which had already arrived in the form of a box of FLOBAR2 t-shirts (which most people spent the rest of the day wearing).

Keith then summarised the aims and objectives of FLOBAR2, especially for Peter’s benefit, so that he had a sense of how the WPs fitted together (but also to remind everyone of the commitments originally made). It was noted that deviations from the original commitment could take place, but that a formal process of notification was required through the 6-monthly reporting, and by modification of the GANTT diagram.

Reporting requirements (Francine, Keith)

Francine then provided a more detailed reminder of the structure of the Report required at the end of the second year of the project.

Section 1 of the Report covers the 6 months before March 31st 2002, with Section headings as follows (and as usual): 1.1 Objectives of the reporting period; 1.2 Scientific/technical progress made by work package, according to the planned schedule (including an updated Gantt chart); 1.3 Milestones and deliverables; 1.4 Deviations from the work plan or/and time schedule and their impact on the project; 1.5 Co-ordination of information between partners and communication activities (eg meetings, conferences, co-operation with other projects); and 1.6 Difficulties encountered in management and co-ordination, and solutions.

Section 2 of the Report is the executive, publishable summary (2 pages by the co-ordinators, relating to the 12-month period).

Section 3 is the detailed report organised by work-package including data on individual
contributions from each partner, and relating to the 12-month reporting period. Each workpackage has a maximum of 4 pages, based on the numbered headings: 3.1 Objectives; 3.2 Methodology and scientific achievements related to workpackages including contribution from partners; 3.3 Socio-economic relevance and policy implication; 3.4 Discussion and Conclusion; and 3.5 Plan and objectives for the next period.

Section 4 is the Technological Implementation Plan (Cumulative). Keith outlined the guidelines for preparation of a TIP, and noted that forms may be downloaded from

Work Package meetings

Separate WP meetings then occurred in parallel with the aim of discussing progress and preparing for reporting back to the plenary session on Saturday morning. However, it was noted that WP sessions would be held late on Friday afternoon for WP7 and WP1.

Work Package 7; Review of Progress and Future Plans (Tim, Jochen, Manuela)

Tim outlined the purpose of the session, which was not only to report, but also to obtain feedback on three key areas. He summarised the aims of WP7. They are: (i) to provide a broad analysis of river basin management in four countries (Germany, France, England & Wales and Sweden), both water management and land use planning dimensions; (ii) to undertake a policy analysis of the context for restoration of floodplain woodland; and (iii) to complete case studies in the four countries. The policy analysis was based on interviews, and documentary evidence.

The three areas requiring feedback were: (i) alternative visual representations to summarise the drivers and constraints in the four countries; (ii) the choice of case studies: and (iii) the preliminary country-by-country interpretation of the institutional contexts for restoration.

The radial diagram of constraints and drivers was generally preferred, although it was noted that the linear scales were non-quantitative, rendering comparative plots difficult to interpret. However, they provided a convenient means of summarising the key factors affecting the potential for restoration projects in the four countries. Manuela noted that Sweden was unlikely to generate case studies worth prosecuting, and that the resources to have been used here may be re-targeted. Jochen identified possible case studies in France, and those involving espace liberté on the Loire and flood attenuation on the upper Seine, were particularly favoured as linking to key themes in the Guidelines Document. Tim identified the case study options in England & Wales (the Parrett was preferred) and in Germany.

Work Package 1 (Francine)

The original objectives and deliverables of this workpackage were outlined. This work-package pulls together the natural and social science knowledge of the FLOBAR groups, together with knowledge about the working of floodplain forests from other research projects to eventually deliver a document called "The Flooded Forest: guidance on restoring floodplain woodlands for policy makers and river managers in Europe" The contents of the document as agreed in the previous days meeting by the WP1 scientists were presented to the rest of FLOBAR2. Discussion of the layout style of the document and the deadlines by which text needs to be prepared also took place. Francine emphasized that she will be a strict editor of the document so that all contributions conform to a uniform style of presentation. The aims and format of the WP1 workshop which will take place on May 16th and 17th 2002 in Cambridge were also presented to the whole FLOBAR2 team. Other deliverables from this workpackage were presented, notably the compilation of a European bibliography of floodplain forests, organised by river basin, which has been prepared by Jacky Girel (G).

Saturday 16 March

Work Package 2 (Gerard)

Gerard presented the results of his own work, and that of Luc Lambs (T). In Toulouse, sap flow measurements have been continued in Populus nigra and Salix alba, and the experiments had enabled observation of growth rate increase and sap flow at the end of high water periods on the Garonne. The plan for the last year is to collaborate more closely with the Grenoble team to compare techniques, by installing sap flow measurement devices at Grenoble field sites, and by collaborating on estimation of evaporation losses.

In Grenoble the focus has been on the functional diversity of the regulation of the water status of alluvial plants, on well-watered (Isère) and dry (Drac) sites. Investigations have considered a range of species, both drought-adapted and water-demanding. Gerard's experiments have revealed the diurnal pattern of stomatal regulation when water is not limiting, and identified the critical osmotic pressures at which stomatal closure occurs in different plants. In addition, they have also shown how stomatal and hydraulic conductances are regulated by trees in low water regimes; and that drought tolerant trees are able to resist cavitation in the xylem. These results all show that trees are able to adapt to some degree to changing water regime, possibly in reversible ways. They also show that riparian trees can adapt to differential water supply in ways that limit their water demands, suggesting that arguments against riparian woodland on the grounds of high water demands may be exaggerated.

Work Package 3 (Mats, Shaojun)

Mats introduced the conceptual model underpinning WP3, in which the riparian plant community is defined by its species richness and biomass production, and these factors are related to litter accumulation and decomposition and river hydrology and soil moisture. This is translated into two experimental studies.

The first, in Sweden on the banks of the River Vindeln, involved a manipulation of turves, which were moved among three elevations, and given different litter treatments. Changes in species richness and biomass are being monitored in order to assess the relative importance of controls on the plant community, and the results are effectively demonstrated in a series of graphical presentations which reveal the response of turves when moved up or down the bank. The second experiment, described by Shaojun, involved plot experiments at Wicken Fen near Cambridge, with plots at different elevations, with and without litter, with and without vegetation removal and with and without added seeds. Counts of the number of seedlings over time, and analysis using Factorial ANOVA, suggested that a hitherto neglected pervasive interaction effect was of critical importance - a high percentage of the total variance of species richness was associated with the interactions of 2, 3 or all factors. This raises several problems for the design of appropriate management regimes in restoration projects, as one strategy (eg mulching) will be sensitive to other conditions.

Work Package 4 (Mats, Francine)

Mats again introduced this sex ratio WP, with its emphasis on the spatial distribution of the males and females of particular riparian species. In Sweden, this had been investigated for Salix lapponum and Salix myrsinifolia-phylicifolia by comparing a free-flowing river (the Vindeln) and a controlled river (the Ume), and by mapping the distribution of males and females of dioecious Salicaceae species along these rivers. Generally, it emerges that there are more females than males (a male/female ratio of about 0.61), and the preponderance of females increases at the wetter ends of topographic gradients. However, the regional populations account for much of the skew towards females, and this reflects preferential herbivory (males are more palatable, being less "defended" chemically (a conclusion supported experimentally in feeding tests). Nevertheless, there are also more females towards the north, where the herbivory pressures are generally lower. Although the causes of the unbalanced sex ratio are not clearly established, it appears that the dominance of females on river banks cannot be considered to deviate from the regional norm.

A further investigation of sex ratios is being conducted by Francine in Cambridge on cuttings of Salix myrsinifolia-phylicifolia from Sweden tested on the rhizopods in the greenhouses in the Botanic Garden. Cuttings standardised by weight are being grown under varying conditions of water-table drawdown in order to assess whether there is a gender differnce in response to those conditions. This experiment is still in progress.

Work Package 5 (Mark, Nadia)

Nadia outlined the sampling programme on the River Drôme, in which two islands (one large, one small) were selected in each of a channelised and a braided reach, and saplings were selected for genetic analysis (AFLP) in order to assess the degree of clonality, and the relative importance of vegetative reproduction and regeneration from seed. This suggested a high degree of clonality, and relatively little potential to attribute any differences in clonality to the difference between controlled and free-flowing river conditions. She also outlined the remote sensing and GIS techniques being used to assess the rates of change of channel island margins, in relation to flood history, in order to correlate this with varying levels of genetic diversity. Research was now under way on the Garonne River to develop a genetic investigation of clonality in relation to channel change, using similar strategies to the study in the Drôme.

Mark then reported on further work on DNA micro-satellite studies that was capable of providing further insight into the levels of clonality, and of demonstrating that seed-based regeneration was as likely to be clonal as was vegetation reproduction.

Work Package 6 (Philippe, Keith)

Philippe outlined work in progress on the Isère at Grenoble. Continued monitoring was occurring of the interaction between vegetation, flow and sedimentation on the Brignoud Island. Jacky was continuing to map the changing pattern of vegetation, showing that dense willow saplings were gradually giving way to more widely-spaced mature trees in parts of the island, and that the different plant communities displayed different physiognomy and roughness. The island was continuing to grow, and 5-10 year floods were now required to inundate the island. Trenches had been dug with a view to correlating the sequence of depositional units with the history of flooding. Catharine was also continuing to work on models of sediment transport in the two-layer flows over the island (an impeded lower layer through the ground-level vegetation, and an upper layer through the more widely-space trees.

The background to these studies was that fact that the stage-discharge relationship for the Isère had shifted, and that this could not all be accounted for by the roughness of the vegetation; reduced cross-section areas seemed also important. Analysis of patterns of scour and fill along a 50-km reach of the Isère confirmed this, with deposition dominating from Brignoud to Grenoble.

Keith reported the results of Rachel's experiments, in which varying densities of rigid stems had been tested to identify their effect on upstream increases in water level, and 1D hydraulic modelling had then been performed in order to estimate the roughness coefficient associated with different densities, spacings, patterns and stem preperties. This research was designed to enable development of schemes for estimating roughness coefficients from measurable attributes of woody vegetation on floodplains.

Jean-Luc and Stephane, in the meantime, were working on the Allier River to map channel change and vegetation development, to estimate roughness for different types of vegetation community, and to analyse patterns of aggradation and degradation in relation to bedload transport and vegetation density.

Together these studies provide a focus on the influence exercised by riparian vegetation on flood flow characteristics - depths, velocities, sediment transport, floodwater storage and downstream flood attenuation.

Conclusion (Keith)

To round the meeting off, Keith reported on the Descartes Prize, details of which were on the web-site He suggested that, if there continued to be such an award in 2003, it might be worth a self-nomination given the integrated nature of the FLOBAR2 Guidelines Document; this year, however, it might be premature.

He also drew attention to the opportunities emerging in the proposals for Framework 6. The Instruments under FP6 are to include Networks of Excellence (Open calls for proposals involving networks which spread excellence, with joint programmes of research, and training - with long term goals); and Integrated Projects (to create critical mass to achieve clearly defined scientific and technological goals). The themes include Sustainable Development and Global Change and Ecosystems. It was agreed that informal discussion should address the possibilities for developing a network or project to build on the successes of FLOBAR2.

Finally, he expressed the whole team's thanks to Christer and Mats for the excellent arrangements for the meeting, which had been really successful both academically and socially. The assembled team then risked all on the ski slopes.....