Flood plain event

Floodplain ecosystems comprise a mosaic of shifting habitats (forests, river channels and alluvial aquifers) with high interdependency. Flood pulse, hydrological connectivity and geomorphological dynamics are key factors for high species diversity and productivity, complexity in successional trajectories and importance of ecotones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Most rivers in Europe have been drastically altered by dams and reservoirs, canalisation, reduction of the wetland area, eutrophication and various other land-use developments. After a very long period of destruction of floodplain integrity, the need for protecting and restoring alluvial ecosystems slowly became apparent over the last 3 decades. The symposium « European floodplains 2002 » follows a series of meetings focusing on such topics. A first international symposium was held in Strasbourg in 1980. It resulted in a common statement adopted by the 94 researchers from the represented countries. This text instigated Recommendation R(82)12 on the alluvial forests of Europe approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The main theme of the Symposium in Strasbourg, will be «Assessment of long-term river management on floodplain forest and grassland, and lateral arms ecology».

MAIN THEMES :

Natural functioning of floodplains : biodiversity, biogeochemistry, river-groundwater exchanges, aquatic ecosystems.
Evaluation of responses of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to river management.
Synthesis of existing knowledge on floodplain protection and restoration.
Partnerships between scientists, decision-makers, government agencies, conservation bodies and managers in order to improve floodplain protection and restoration.

SYMPOSIUM STRUCTURE : The symposium begins with an excursion to nature reserves along the Rhine (Erstein, France) and to Altenheim polder in Germany. Following this trip, there will be a three-day plenary session. The third day will be organised on the theme of “Impact of natural flood defence on functions and range of wetland habitats (forest, river). Action to protect existing habitats and restore others. Examples from large European river plains (Rhine, Rhône, Danube, Elbe, Loire)”. The last day was a second day-excursion in France (confluence Sauer-Rhine, nature reserve) and in Germany (Rastatt reserve)

NEW AGENDA

Sunday, July 7

16:00-18:00 : Registration at the Botany Institute, University of Strasbourg, 28 rue Goethe.

Monday, 8

8:30-12:.00 : Field-trip to the Erstein nature reserve (France).
12:00-14:00 : Lunch.
14:00-18:00 : Field-trip to the Altenheim polder (Germany).

Tuesday, 9

8:30 – 9:15 : Symposium opening by H Geiger Adjoint au Maire chargé de l’Environnement Ville de Strasbourg

Welcome – J.M. Michel (Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l’Environnement Direction de la Nature et des Paysages) and
M Trémolières – Introduction, Objectives of the symposium
M. Déjean-Pons -Council of Europe

9:15-12:30 Topic I : An overview of protection and conservation state of european alluvial ecosystems Chairwoman M Trémolières

9:15 – 9:45 R Carbiener – The Rhine
9:45 – 10:15 J. L. Michelot – The Rhône
10:15 – 10:45 F. Sartori – The Pô

10:45 – 11:15 Coffee break

11:15 – 11:45 E. Dister – The Danube
11: 45 – 12:15 S. Muller -The Meuse

12: 30 -14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 18:10 Topic II : The natural functioning of floodplains

Chairman : E. Dister

14:00 – 14:30 C. Amoros -Biodiversity in former channels of temperate rivers : patterns and processes
14:30 – 15:00 A. Schnitzler – Alluvial forests of cold temperate climate and warm temperate climate Rhine and Mississipi. A comparison of specific richness
15:00 – 15:20 P. Huggenberger – Temporal and spatial behavior of the riparian zone as a key issue for the understanding of biophysical processes between river and groundwater
15:20 – 15:40 H. Volk – Biodiversity on Central Europe’s larger flood plains
15:40 – 16:00 L. Schmitt, Nobelis P., Maire G. & Trémolières M. – Hydro-geomorphological typology of the alsatian Rhine floodplain watercourses and distribution of the aquatic macrophyte communities

16:00-16:30 Coffee break

Chairwoman : A. Schnitzler

16:30 – 16:50 C. Arnold, Gillet F. & Gobat J.M. – Ecology of the wild grapevine (Vitis vinifera ssp.) in European floodplain forests and implications in conservation or reintroduction}}
16:50 – 17:10 N. Barsoum & Muller E.- Proportion of clones in different-aged Populus nigra stands growing along a semi-constrained meandering reach of the Garonne River, France
17:10 – 17:30 J.Branciforti & Muller S. – Alluvial grassland avifauna : interests of a multi-scale approach for habitat selection studies, implications for ecological management
17:30 – 17:50 A.F. Deiller, Walter J.M. & Trémolières M. – Contrasted species richness and diversity in three Rhine alluvial forests : the role of ecological and random factors ?
17:50- 18:10 D. Thoen & Hérault B. – Deciduous forests and spruce plantations in the floodplain of the Semois (Belgium) : a comparison of species diversity and regenerating potentialities
18:30 Reception at the “Hotel de Ville” , Strasbourg

Wednesday, 10

9:00 -12:35 Topic III: Human impacts on large river plains

Chairman : F. Sartori

9:00 – 9:15 Session opening: H. Geiger Adjoint au Maire chargé de l’Environnement Ville de Strasbourg

9:15 – 9:45 M. Reich – Metapopulations structures in riverine landscapes
9:45 – 10:15 J. Bailey – The invasion of the alien Killer-Knotweeds? – problems, potentials and perspectives
10:15 – 10:45: M Trémolières – Change in aquatic phytocenoses in the former lateral arms of the Rhine according to the degree of connection

10:45 – 11:15 Coffee break

Chairman : R. Carbiener

11:15 -11:35 S. Hohensinner, Egger G., Haidvogl G., Jungwirth M., Muhar S. – Hydrological connectivity as a central aspect of natural floodplain functioning: the Danube River in the Austrian Machland 1812 and 1991
11:35 – 11:55 Y. Kvet & Prach K. – Sustainable Functioning of the Floodplain of a Small Central European River
11:55 – 12:15 Ir. A.Remmelzwaal – The ecological effects of floodplain lowering 12:15 – 12:35 I. Leyer – Modelling plant species responses to hydrological regulation in floodplains

12:35 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 -18:10 Topic IV: Rehabilitation and restoration

Chairman : M. Reich

14:00 – 14:30 R.S.E.W. Leuven, Lenders H.J.R. & de Nooij R.- Impact of floodplain reconstruction measures on riverine biodiversity
14:30 – 14:50 A.D. Buijse & van der Molen D.T. – Assessing the benefits of floodplain rehabilitation along the lower River Rhine (the Netherlands)
14:50 – 15:10 L. Maman – From the knowledge of the Loire fluvial ecosystem functioning to concerted actions in restoration
15:10- 15:30 C. Roulier & Thielen R.- Protection and revitalisation of alluvial zones in Switzerland: state of the art
15:30 – 15:50 H.A. Wolters, Platteeuw M. & Schoor M.M. – Guidelines for rehabilitation and management of floodplain : ecology and safety combined
15:50 – 16:00 Poster presentation

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee break

Chairman : C. Amoros

16:30 – 16:50 U. Menke – ECRR (European Centre for River Restoration) and its importance for Transboundary Water management
16:50 – 17:10 M. Eiseltova & Pokorny J. – Restoration of water and matter retention functions of a floodplain ecology and economics, the Stropnice river catchment, Czech Republic
17:10 – 17:30 M.P. Vecrin, Grevilliot F. & Muller S.- Soil seed bank contributions to restore alluvial meadows after a cultivation stage
17:30 – 17:50 E. Muller, Barsoum N. & Guilloy H.- The decline of riparian woodlands along the Garonne river: is restoration still possible?
17:50 – 18:10 L. Triest, S. Viaene, K. Van Puyvelde, J. Barker, A. King, J. Gloessl, C.Arnold, G. Vendramin – How different are riparian willow vegetations in upstream and downstream floodplains of major European rivers when considering their genetic diversity ? Implications for the conservation of their naturalness

19:00 Organ concert at the Strasbourg Cathedral
Organist – C. Schnitzler

Thursday, 11

9:00 – 12:00 Topic V. Rhine alluvial ecosystems

Chairman : J. Kvet

9:00 – 9:15 Session opening – D. Hommel Conseil Régional d’Alsace
9:15 – 9:35 W. Bücking – Ecological survey of the Rhine floodplain forests: background for the conservation of the Rhine forests
9:35 – 9:55 R. Boeuf – Phytoecological approach in the analysis of the French alluvial forests
9:55 – 10:15 A. Douard & J.P. Irlinger – Conservation management in the nature Rhine reserves
10:15 – 10:30 Poster presentation

10:30 – 11:00 : Coffee break

Chairman : W. Bücking

11:00-11:20 F. Lonchampt – Peri-urban forests : the case of a nature reserve close to the city of Strasbourg
11:20 – 11:40 H. Hasle – Conservation and restoration of habitats along the upper Rhine.
11:40 – 12:00 G. Thiébaut , Garbey C., Klein J.P., Peltre M.C., Muller S. – Aquatic macrophyte communities as descriptors of disturbances. Application to the River Moselle
12:00 – 12:20 E. Langlois, Ernout A. & Alard D. – Spatial dynamics of biodiversity in floodplains : the lower Seine valley
12:20 – 12:30 Poster presentation

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00-16:30 Topic VI: Examples of European alluvial floodplains

Chairman : J. Bailey

14:00 – 14:30 E. Gauthier – The stakes of revitalisation of the Loire River (France)
14:30 – 14:50 K. Follner, Scholz M. & Henle K. – Indication of ecological changes in riverine wetlands of the Elbe
14:50 – 15:10 J. Varadi & P. Bakonyi – More room to the Tisza River
15:10 – 15:30 E. Schneider & D. Detlef-Diringer- Ecological restoration of the lower Danube and the Danube delta
15:30 – 15:50 W. Lazowski – Restoration and water management programs concerning relic Danube floodplains of Vienna (Lobau, Danube Floodplain National Park) – Perspectives of a specific ecological situation
15:50 – 16:10 U. Schwarz – The Kopacki Rit along the confluence of the Drava-Danube rivers : a unique European floodplain reference.

16:10 Coffee break

16:10-17:30 Poster session

17:30-18.30 : Symposium conclusions with the participation of Eladio Fernandez Galiano – Council of Europe .

Friday, 12

8:30-18:00 Excursion to Rastatt reserve (Germany) and Reserve of Sauer Delta (confluence with the Rhine, France)
Departure: Place de l’ Etoile, Strasbourg

Oral communications can be made in French or in English. Simultaeous translation will occur in this meeting

audio-visual material available :
overheads, Slides, videoprojection (under powerpoint 97),
Only on PC with CD rom, no zip disk or zip drive

Australia’s greenhouse policy

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. The IPCC is charged with investigating and reporting on global climate change and concludes that average global temperatures have increased by 0.6o C (+ or – 0.2o) in the 20th century (IPCC, 2001a:4) http://www.ipcc.ch/.

Given that global economic growth based on carbon fuels is set to continue, the question is what will be the greenhouse effect on the world’s climate in the future. The ‘best estimates’ of the IPCC are for a 2o C rise in temperature – but ranging from a low of 1.4o and a high of 5.8o by 2100 – coupled with a sea level rise of 0.09 to 0.88 m for 1990 to 2100 with a central value of 0.48 m. (IPCC, 2001a: 7,8) http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/un/syreng/spm.pdf. It is important to note that these are ‘projections’, based on a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2100 , they are not ‘predictions’ that foretell the future.

The sea level has risen in the last century by between 10cm and 25cm due to expansion of the earth’s oceans, together with the melting of ice caps. The estimate of sea level rise is more uncertain than are temperature increase estimates because the oceans will take a long time to absorb the extra warming generated in the atmosphere. What is known is that the slow absorption of heat will cause the oceans to go on rising for centuries, even if international measures are taken to curtail global greenhouse gas emissions.

Sources of greenhouse gases

The industrialised nations are responsible for most of the historical and contemporary emissions of greenhouse gases. Theirs will remain the major contribution to the accumulated stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for decades into the future, despite the increasing rate of emissions from developing countries. The U.S. is the major contemporary source, contributing over a quarter of emissions. The former Soviet Union is a large emitter at two-thirds that of the U.S. Of the non-industrialised nations, China’s and India’s contributions together amount to about half the U.S. output, but their shares and the share of the rest of Asia are increasing – for example, China is projected to be the equal of the U.S. by 2015. Many non-industrialised countries will remain minor contributors to emissions because of their small economies and low economic growth rates. The whole of Africa is expected to increase its emissions by 50 per cent to the year 2015, but its share of global emissions is projected to fall to only 3.3 per cent (Energy Information Administration, 1996:1) http://www.geocities.com/combusem/TBLA08.GIF.

Australia is responsible for only 1.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised countries. However, its output is only slightly less than that of much larger European countries with many times the population. For example France emitted only 10 per cent more carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, than Australia in 2000 but has three times the population. Australia relies on fossil fuels for its energy, unlike countries such as France that generate a large percentage of their electricity from nuclear power. It is also heavily engaged in energy intensive industries such as metal smelting, and in recent years has had comparatively high economic growth. As result, Australia is the second greatest emitter of carbon dioxide per head in the world, surpassed only by the U.S. Australians averaged just over 18 tonnes of CO2 per head in year 2000, compared with 20.5 for the average American. A summary of CO2 emission levels in Australia and the U.S. is given in Table 1. Taking into account all greenhouse gases, including methane from agriculture, Australia has the highest per capita emissions of any country (Pollard, 2003).

A major reason why Australia is a leader in the emission stakes is that it still clears wooded land for agriculture. In 1990, 28 per cent of carbon emissions were generated by land clearing. Despite a decrease over the decade, 10 per cent of emissions were still generated by clearing in 2000 (AGO, 2002a) http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/. In contrast, as Table 1 shows, Americans reduced their emissions in 2000 by over 15 per cent through afforestation, and American levels of CO2 emissions per head increased by 5 per cent over the last 10 years while Australia’s grew by 18 per cent.

The costs of global warming

Before committing resources to reducing the effects of global warming it is first necessary to know something about the costs such warming generates.

The IPCC estimates the economic losses associated with a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations, which would produce an estimated 2.5oC global warming, to be 1.5 to 2.0 per cent of global gross world product annually (IPCC, 1997:31). Gross world product is the sum of all countries’ gross domestic product (GDP), and in 1997 it was US$38,123 billion. Applying the 1.5 to 2.0 per cent range gives a global cost estimate for greenhouse of between US$572 billion and US$762 billion annually. (It should be noted that this loss in GDP is the loss incurred when greenhouse gases, in CO2 equivalent terms, have doubled in concentration in the atmosphere. In prior years, as the CO2 concentration is building, losses would be smaller.)

The costs of global warming will differ geographically, not only because of varying patterns of climate change but because some relatively rich countries will be able to reduce effects and future costs by taking early action, while poorer countries are less likely to be able to do so. The cost to developed countries was estimated by the IPCC to be 1-1.5 per cent of total GDP, and to developing countries 2-9 per cent of total GDP(IPCC, 1997:31). Given a total developed countries’ GDP of US$20,968 billion and a developing countries’ GDP of US$17,155 billion (International Monetary Fund (IMF) , 2000) www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2000/02/data/the cost of global warming is apportioned as follows:

a) developed countries US$210-315 billion, annually

b) developing countries US$343 – 1,544 billion, annually

These costs of global warming on the world economy were broadly agreed in estimates surveyed by Nordhaus (1994). However, the uncertainty inherent in these estimations is highlighted by the spread of results, which ranged from zero to 21 per cent. The costs of such effects as species extinctions and loss of human life are particularly difficult and contentious. Nevertheless, what seems to be clear is that the economic losses associated with global warming will be far greater for developing than for developed countries.

The costs to Australia and New Zealand have been similarly estimated at 1.2 to 3.8 per cent of GDP (IPCC, 2001b: 50). This equates to a cost to Australia of between US$4.9 billion and US$15.6 billion annually for a doubling of world greenhouse gas concentrations.

However, the above estimates of the costs of global warming are deeply qualified by the IPCC itself. Even for Australia – an OECD member – the IPCC admits that comprehensive cost estimates for climate change are not yet available (IPCCC, 2001b). Moreover, the costs are based on the impact of a doubling of CO2 concentrations on the present day economies, whereas in reality national economies will have grown considerably by the time CO2 concentrations double.

Another difficulty in costing climate change is how to value costs incurred many years in the future. Discounting (the inverse of interest), is the technique employed to take account of the fact that human beings put less value on future costs and benefits than they do on present costs and benefits. Even a modest discount rate of 5 per cent per annum reduces the present value of the cost to Australia of global warming in 100 years time to only US$0.04 -1.43 billion, compared with an undiscounted cost range US$4.9 –15.6 billion. This leads to the question of how much it is wise to spend now to avert global warming costs in the future. In economic terms, if the present value of future costs is discounted to insignificance then Australia can justify spending only modestly in the present to reduce those costs. Nevertheless, by signing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Australia has agreed to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.