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close this bookGATE - 3/90 - Conservation of Natural Resource (GTZ GATE, 1990, 36 p.)
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Institut des Plaines Alluviales
Instituto Ecolo de Planicies Fluviales
Institute for Floodplains Ecology

Josefstra 1
D-7750 Rastatt · FRG
Phone: [49] (0) 72 22/3 20 65 /3 20 66
Fax: [49] (0) 7222/30189

In order to carry on research, conservation, management and development of riverine landscapes in Europe, HRH Prince Philip, president of WWF-lnternational (World Wide Fund for Nature), founded the WWF-Auen-lnstitut (Institute for Floodplains Ecology) in May 1985 in Rastatt near Karlsruhe, FRG. The institute came into being as an interdisciplinary, international project to help provide a complete answer to the complex problems confronting the floodplains. For this reason it goes without saying that various fields of study, from limnology to landscape planning, and from hydraulic engineering to geobotany, are represented and must be closely coordinated. Today the institute is comprised of 14 permanent employees from six different countries. Additional specialists, guest scientists as well as others working on their doctorate or diploma, who are employed on a limited time basis, are part of this team.

The WWF-Auen-lnstitut works closely together with various national and international GO's and NGO's, for example, the Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Eaux Douces at the University of Lyon I (France) and the foundation NEOTROPICOS in Medellin (Colombia). Administrative and financial services are supplied by the WWF-Deutschland located in Frankfurt (FRG). Additional income comes from contracted research and management studies. The subject matter treated by the institute are related to WWF-lnternational in Gland (Switzerland).


The main fields of study of the WWF-Auen-lnstitut include:

· applied research

· mitigation and avoidance of impacts

· planning and development in the floodplains on large rivers; accompanied by public relations work especially on floodplains, which helps further the goals of the institute (and in a broad sense WWF) in the fields mentioned. Geographically the main areas of study are presently the catchment area on the Loire (France), the Upper Rhine (FRG/France) and the Danube (Austria, CSFR, Hungary) as well as activities in regions overseas (Rio Magdalena in Colombia, Pantanal in Brasil) for the last two years.

Research projects

Concrete, long-termed research projects are being conducted, for example, concerning the development and testing of environmentally compatible methods of silviculture in the floodplain forests, natural succession on former agricultural areas in inundation zones and the importance of the floodplains for the self-purification of the river.

Mitigation and avoidance of impacts

In regard to mitigation and avoidance of impacts the institute works on the conception of environmental impact assessments (EIA) and expertise’s on large-scale hydraulic projects. Worthy of note are the EIA's concerning flood protection measures on the Upper Rhine on behalf of the state government of Baden-Wberg (FRO) as well as a preventive EIA concerning the planned river management on the Loire (France) being conducted in the area of the Allier mouth (Bee d'Allier). The coordination and responsibility of the expertise concerning the hydropower plant project Gabcikovo-Nagymaros on the Danube, which was entrusted to WWF-International, was undertaken at the WWF-Auen-lnstitut.

Planning and development

In the planning and development domain, there now exist studies, for example, in relation to the possibility of renaturalization of the Rhine floodplains in Hessen (FRG), including aspects of flood protection, agriculture, forest management, recreation, nature protection and other land uses. The "El Dorado" project on the Rio Magdalena in Colombia with its goal of protecting and finding a sustainable, environmentally and socially compatable use of the tropical floodplains is being conducted together with a local counterpart (NEOTROPICOS foundation). And naturally the management plan of the WWF-owned floodplain reserve "Marchauen-Marchegg" in eastern Austria was also elaborated by the WWF Auen-lnstitut.