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Bundesamt für Naturschutz

Ruwer riverine system with tributary streams

Areas and habitats
Waters and floodplains
Large-Scale Conservation Projects
Near-nature watercourse in the Mittelgebirge, Germany’s central uplands
Federal state
Division II 2.1 Biotope Protection and Management; Protected Areas
1993 - 2004
Core area 3,025 ha
Rhineland-Palatinate, south of the city of Trier, Physiographic unit: Unteres Ruwertal (Lower Ruwer valley)
Grant amount
6.800.000 €

Project description

The Ruwer river with its tributary streams is a typical upland riverine system notable for its largely near-natural headwaters and watercourses. The project area is the entire water catchment area of the Ruwer river. The core area consists of the watercourses, their headwaters and alluvial plains. In the alluvial plains, broad areas of damp habitats with carr and riparian woodlands, areas of bog, damp meadows and mat-grass swards are still found. Numerous rare and endangered animal and plant species occupy this area, including ivy-leaved bellflower (Wahlenbergia hederacea), wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), green-winged orchid (Orchis morio), the whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia), the white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus) and the European brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri).

The objective of the project is to develop the riverine system into an exemplary, interconnected and for the most part near-natural aquatic and riparian landscape, and to safeguard its long-term future by purchasing land, making compensation payments and carrying out one-off habitat management measures. At the forefront of these efforts, the aim is to enable and stimulate natural development processes which will continue to evolve naturally without constant human interventions, and which will result in a largely natural landscape in the long term.

Along the watercourses, planned measures include the removal and conversion of pipe culverts, drop structures, canal crossings, fords and weirs, as well as measures to assist channels which have been straightened or lowered to take a more natural course.

In the open landscape, management of derelict and in some cases afforested mat-grass swards and damp meadows will be resumed.
In the forested valleys, spruce stands will be cleared and natural riparian and carr woodlands will be developed.

The conservation and development of habitats will be achieved in forward-looking cooperation with users of the landscape, and by integrating conservation and water management strategies in an exemplary manner.

Various types of work were carried out to create new habitats:

  • Alterations to barrages, canal junctions, culverts and crossings to restore the ecological integrity of the Ruwer river.
  • Alterations to culverts, falls, fords and barrages to restore the ecological integrity of a number of tributaries.
  • Channel alterations in two straightened and deepened river segments.
  • Designation of buffer strips along the Ruwer and its tributaries, and cessation of river management.
  • Non-native spruce plantations transformed into near-natural floodplain tree cover.
  • Clearance of afforested river valleys and nurturing of mat-grass swards.
  • Clearance of bushy growth and initial mowing of mat-grass swards and wet meadows.

Nature conservation areas now make up 455 ha of the core project area, and designation is in progress for some of the remainder. Large parts of the core area are designated as Natura 2000 sites. 

Habitat conservation and restoration was carried out in exemplary partnership with countryside users, integrating conservation and water management strategies in a model fashion.

Project executing agencies

Kreisverwaltung Trier-Saarburg
Willy-Brandt-Platz 1, 54290 Trier

Project funding agencies

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Land (state) of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kreis (district) of Trier-Saarburg
Verbandsgemeinden (municipalities) of Kell and Ruwer, city of Trier
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