Simplified, natural rivers are characterised by a diverse vertical and horizontal structure of the riverbed, good water quality and well-structures floodplains consisting of flooded meadows, softwood and hardwood forests, oxbow lakes, temporary ponds and reeds.
Since the 19th centuries many riverbeds have been regulated, floodplains have been drained and used agriculturally and industry and households have discharged wastewater into the rivers. In the border regions - due to the economic decline - we can find some of the most intact floodplains with a high variety of habitats and species.
Examples are large segments and estuaries of the rivers Vistula, Odra, Elbe, Mura, Drava and Danube adjacent to the former Iron Curtain.
Images: 1,2 Morava Floodplains Zuzana Butasova, 3 Thaya Floodplains Robert Hofrichter, 4 Kopacki Rit David Reeder
Green Belt Europe