Restoration of the environments


The team is involved in large-scale projects in environmental restoration:

  • the restoration of an arm of the Rhine in the Rohrschollen Nature Reserve in the framework of a European LIFE+ program
  • Experimental restoration of aquatic ecosystems on the Woerr site, which is a protected alluvial natural area in northeastern Alsace (CNRS SEEG site) - EMYS-R
  • EDF pilot projects of gravel augmentation and controlled erosion in the Old Rhine (respectively in Kembs and Ottmarsheim)

The Rhine and its natural residual part - interdisciplinary approach

Concerning the Old Rhine, all the results of the ongoing geomorphological monitoring underline the need to widen the Old Rhine downstream of gravel augmentations. This confirms some results already obtained during the INTERREG project Redynamisation of the Old Rhine completed in 2012. The LIVE is positioned to co-pilot with the managers (Grand Est Region, DREAL, Rhine-Meuse Water Agency...) an ambitious restoration program, of INTERREG type, aiming at widening the Old Rhine on its left bank and at carrying out sedimentary recharges upstream from these widening sites. Within this framework, the members of the theme will guide the managers in their choices, in particular by modelling, and will carry out interdisciplinary monitoring.

On a larger scale, we are developing a project for a cross-border observatory of the restoration of the Upper Rhine and for feedback on the restorations carried out (ENGEES funding). A database of more than 140 restoration actions has already been developed. The objective is 1. to capitalize on restoration and monitoring experiences so that the restorations carried out and those to come are as effective and sustainable as possible and 2. to create a permanent network of actors (managers, engineering firms, private companies, scientists) in the restoration of the Upper Rhine. The further development of this cross-border observatory is a clear objective of the theme.


Beisel, J. N., Staentzel, C., Skupinski, G., Walch, A., Pons, M., Weber, S., ... & Huber, A. (2021). Evolution of relict floodplain forest in river stretches of Western and Central Europe as affected by river infrastructure networks. Plos one, 16(9), e0257593.

Chardon, V., Schmitt, L., Piégay, H., Beisel, J. N., Staentzel, C., Barillier, A., & Clutier, A. (2020). Effects of Transverse Groynes on Meso-Habitat Suitability for Native Fish Species on a Regulated By-Passed Large River: A Case Study along the Rhine River. Water, 12(4), 987.

Eschbach, D., Schmitt, L., Imfeld, G., May, J. H., Payraudeau, S., Preusser, F., ... & Skupinski, G. (2018). Long-term temporal trajectories to enhance restoration efficiency and sustainability on large rivers: an interdisciplinary study. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22(5), 2717-2737.

Meyer, A., Combroux, I., Schmitt, L., & Trémolières, M. (2013). Vegetation dynamics in side-channels reconnected to the Rhine River: what are the main factors controlling communities trajectories after restoration?. Hydrobiologia, 714(1), 35-47.

Schmitt, L., Beisel, J. N., Preusser, F., De Jong, C., Wantzen, K. M., Chardon, V., ... & Brackhane, S. (2020). Sustainable management of the upper rhine river and its alluvial plain: lessons from interdisciplinary research in France and Germany.

Staentzel, C., Arnaud, F., Combroux, I., Schmitt, L., Trémolières, M., Grac, C., ... & Beisel, J. N. (2018). How do instream flow increase and gravel augmentation impact biological communities in large rivers: A case study on the Upper Rhine River. River Research and Applications, 34(2), 153-164.

Staentzel, C., Kondolf, G. M., Schmitt, L., Combroux, I., Barillier, A., & Beisel, J. N. (2020). Restoring fluvial forms and processes by gravel augmentation or bank erosion below dams: A systematic review of ecological responses. Science of the Total Environment, 706, 135743.



Pr. Laurent Schmitt PR UNISTRA, Faculté. de Géographie, geomorphology (resp.)   laurent.schmitt[at]

Pr. Jean-Nicolas Beisel, PR ENGEES, biology & freshwater science (resp.) -  jean-nicolas.beisel[at]

Cybill Staentzel, MCF ENGEES, biology & freshwater science - cybill.staentzel[at]

Valentin Chardon Postdoctoral fellow    valentin.chardon[at]

Protected alluvial zones - renaturation and reintroduction

The current context of global change, ongoing and future changes in the dynamics of the water cycle (resources, hydrological extremes) but also the arrival of potentially invasive exotic species, shake up our knowledge of continental hydrosystems. The effects of these different factors can be confusing to those of restoration, which requires a holistic approach to hydrosystems while addressing their complexity.

Within the framework of the EMYS-R project, France, Germany, Poland and Latvia are joining forces to evaluate wetland restoration actions on a European scale for the reintroduction of the Cistude turtle and biodiversity. In France, the laboratories involved are the Institut pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien (IPHC | CNRS Unistra) and the Laboratoire image, ville, environnement (LIVE | CNRS Unistra).


Website of the project :


Karina Van der zon - Ecological restoration of Small Shallow Lkes (2022-) - Under the supervision of Isabelle Combroux.


Isabelle Combroux MCF UNISTRA, Faculté. des Sciences de la Vie, biology & freshwater science combroux[at]

Corinne Grac, IR ENGEES, biology & freshwater science - corinne.grac[at]


Headwater streams - Biotic potential and multifunctionality

Streams are an important landscape feature in the Upper Rhine region and are of great ecological and economic importance. However, these environments are also significantly affected by human activities. The quality of the watercourses has been physically altered in response to past uses. Developments have altered their structure by modifying their course, banks and riparian zones. These changes have frequently resulted in the destruction of aquatic habitats essential to the life cycle of aquatic organisms, and a decrease in longitudinal continuity that impacts both the migration of fish species and the extent of their home range. These changes modify the natural bouquet of ecosystem services (ESS) provided by the biodiversity of rivers. Biodiversity includes not only species diversity, but also genetic diversity, i.e., the diversity of genes between individuals in a population. A high aquatic diversity (species diversity and genetic diversity) ensures a potential for adaptation to changing environmental conditions (resilience), whether these changes are induced by man or by nature itself. This diversity is also the basis for all other ecosystem services provided by the environment.

Our research questions are the following:

  • Do these restoration actions aimed at habitat diversification promote aquatic biodiversity?
  • How do you assess changes in the physical environment and evaluate a host potential?
  • How to improve the quality/quantity of ecological functions provided by riparian ecosystems - regulation and habitat support (notion of multifunctionality)?

Our compartments of interest are macroinvertebrates, aquatic vegetation and riparian buffers.


Results of the project : - sub-section Biodiversity of species:

WebSig :

Tool Tyreco : INTECOL congress Poster (2022)


Pr. Jean-Nicolas Beisel, PR ENGEES, biology & freshwater science (resp.) - jean-nicolas.beisel[at]

Cybill Staentzel, MCF ENGEES, biology & freshwater science - cybill.staentzel[at]