Project: Optimising the configuration of woody riparian buffer strips along rivers to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services

Acronym Oscar (Reference Number: 108)
Duration 30/09/2016 - 29/09/2019
Project Topic Woody riparian buffer strips along rivers (referred to as woody buffers in the following) offer multiple ecosystem services and increase biodiversity. Their beneficial effects potentially add up in downstream direction. Woody buffers may provide migration corridors and connect near-natural sites in a green infrastructure network. However, there is still a high uncertainty associated with quantifying their general effects and knowledge is limited on how the effects of woody buffers depend on their spatial arrangement and add up at the catchment scale. Their function as migration corridors has hardly been studied. These knowledge gaps limit the strategic and targeted implementation of woody buffers in river basin management, conservation planning, and agro-environmental measures. Against this background, the project aims at: •investigating and assessing the effect of woody buffers and their spatial arrangement in a green infrastructure network on biodiversity and ecosystem functions; •assessing the effect of different woody buffer management and climate change scenarios on ecosystem services and biodiversity in four case-study catchments; •optimizing the configuration of woody buffers to effectively increase ecosystem services, biodiversity, connectivity, and the potential to mitigate the temperature increase due to climate change; •in close cooperation with stakeholders, providing and disseminating knowledge rules for the optimization of woody buffers at a catchment scale through a GIS-based tool, and policy recommendations on woody buffer establishment at national and EU-level. The consortium comprises four main European research institutes targeting biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and ecosystem services. It includes partners from two of the larger EU countries with intense agricultural land use, and hence high potential to increase river quality through woody buffers (France, Germany). The project will mainly be based on the extensive monitoring data collected in both countries in recent years for monitoring purposes under the Water Framework Directive that have already been complemented with a range of environmental data by the applicants. The consortium will capitalise on stakeholder networks, which have been established since many years at local and regional scales with water management authorities, and at the national level e.g. with the German LAWA and the French ONEMA. The Freshwater Information Platform ( will be used to promote the project’s results. The project’s research plan and results will also be presented and discussed in the relevant groups of the Common Implementation Strategy of the Water Framework Directive (e.g. ECOSTAT). The project deals with processes and ecosystem functions from the river reach (individual woody buffers) to the catchment scale (woody buffer networks). Results will be upscaled and transferred into management and policy recommendations from catchment to European scales. The results will contribute to bridge the gaps between the Water Framework Directive and Natura2000 requirements and between concepts of ecological status and ecosystem services. Moreover, they will be relevant for the establishment of funding schemes under the Common Agricultural Policy and the implementation of the European Biodiversity Strategy. The Oscar project targets theme #2 of the BiodivERsA 2015 joint call, especially sub-theme 2.1 on the critical features of green infrastructure necessary to support biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, and sub-theme 2.2 on the incorporation of global change drivers in designing green infrastructure.
Network BiodivERsA3
Call BiodivERsA3 Joint Call 2015

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Duisburg-Essen Coordinator Germany
2 IRSTEA Partner France
3 Leibniz-institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland fisheries Partner Germany
4 Norwegian University of Life Sciences Partner Norway