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Leipzig: Revitalization of an urban   floodplain forest

The city   of Leipzig is situated between the floodplains of the rivers White Elster,   Pleiße and Parthe, which form a green belt classified as a significant   Central European floodplain ecosystem resulting from widespread floodplain   forests. Interventions such as river regulation measures, extensive diking   and the drainage of agricultural and pasture fields have had significant   impacts on the floodplain. Furthermore, the creation of the river section   Neue Luppe (New Luppe) to serve flood protection in the 1930s also resulted   in several impacts. Former river sections were cut off and could not provide   the floodplain forest with water anymore. As a result, the formerly   water-rich floodplain landscape now suffers from massive drop of the   groundwater table and is drying out. Today the area consists of many dry   river beds without connectivity and a decrease of dynamic floodplain ponds   and oxbow lakes. This is a threat among others also to the biodiversity of   the floodplain forest and related ecosystem services. At the same   time, the floodplain of Leipzig has an important function as recreational   area and significantly contributes to quality of life of the city residents.

The restoration project “Lebendige Luppe” (Living Luppe)   is one of the largest projects on floodplain and river restoration in Central   Germany and it started in 2012. The objective is the revitalization of more   than 16 km of a former river course in the floodplain ecosystems. Dried-up river arms of the   former water-rich floodplain, especially of the river Luppe, are to be filled   and reconnected again with water and create a continuous water landscape. The   aim is for significant floods to reach large areas of the floodplain via the   new river course. It is planned to achieve inundation of at least 30% of the   floodplain area via the new river. The groundwater table should be stabilised   and raised by about 1 meter in most parts of the project area. The project is   considered part of a mosaic of different measures needed to achieve more   extended revitalisation of the floodplain in the future and is planned as a   no-regret measure.

Major flood events in January 2011 and in June 2013   inundated most of the project area and showed that, as a result of the   project Lebendige Luppe, the floodplain is fulfilling its function of   protecting the city against inundation.

The idea for the restoration of the River Luppe and the   revitalisation of the floodplain was based on preparatory work of the Green   Ring Leipzig, an initiative of Leipzig and the neighbouring municipalities for   a number of projects to enhance the environmental character of the city.

Lebendige Luppe – Heuwegluppe at inundated state. Photo: @Maria   Vitzthum

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