ETC/ICM Report 5/2020: Preliminary assessment of river floodplain condition in Europe

19 Jan 2021

Lidija Globevnik, Kathrin Januschke, Jochem Kail, Luka Snoj, Alessandro Manfrin, Muhammet Azlak, Trine Christiansen, Sebastian Birk

This technical report provides an assessment methodology of floodplain condition in terms of extent, structure and processes at the European scale and give first results.


  • Similar to ecological status assessment of water bodies according to the Water Framework Directive, the floodplain condition assessment refers to ecological floodplain types and type-specific reference conditions. Available data allowed for assessing the floodplain condition for 70 % of the river sub-catchments in Europe. As European data on flood control structures are presently not available, the assessment could not consider the actual extent of flooding.
  • 74% of Europe’s floodplains show severe degradation of floodplain extent, 41% of floodplains show severe degradation of floodplain structures, and 12% of floodplains show severe alteration of floodplain processes.
  • Future conversation and restoration objectives for floodplains should target preserving and re-establishing lateral connectivity with rivers to improve floodplain extent, structure as well as the integrity of natural processes.

Prepared by:

Lead authors: Lidija Globevnik (TC Vode), Kathrin Januschke (UDE), Jochem Kail (UDE), Luka Snoj (TC Vode), Alessandro Manfrin (UDE), Muhammet Azlak (EEA), Trine Christiansen (EEA), Sebastian Birk (UDE)
EEA project manager: Trine Christiansen, Muhammet Azlak
Coordination: Christiane Katterfeld (UFZ)
Language Check: Shane Hume (CENIA)
Layout: F&U confirm, Leipzig