Determining the Restoration Potential of an Urban River Reach Along Zagyva River, Hungary



Publication Date

August 2022


When planning the restoration of rivers, different conditions and needs require different solutions, which is highlighted in the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). These differences must be taken into account in the protection and restoration of our rivers.

Research about the determination of the restoration or rehabilitation potential of rivers has been focused mostly on rural river reaches, but it would be important to place greater emphasis on the restoration of urban river reaches. In the case of rivers in urban areas, in addition to supporting, regulating, and provisioning ecosystem services, cultural ecosystem services are also particularly important – such as recreational opportunities, tourist significance, or aesthetic value. Thus, in addition to the environmental benefits, the social benefits also confirm the importance of restoring urban rivers.

The present research aims to develop an evaluation methodology for river reaches related to urban areas, which interprets and determines the restoration potential in relation to restoration goals. The most common goals related to the restoration of urban rivers have been defined, and the criteria for determining the restoration potential have been developed for each goal. To determine the need for restoration, criteria related to condition were used, such as hydromorphological and ecological features in the riverbed, bank and floodplain (e.g., pavements, morphological features, vegetation features), water quality, presence of pollutants, recreational characteristics (e.g., intensity of human use, view of the river, existing recreational infrastructure). To determine the possibilities, criteria about limiting factors were analyzed, including the width of the floodplain, the presence of artificial facilities, current and planned land use. Information from field surveys as well as available databases and GIS data were used for the evaluation.

The need (condition) and possibilities (limiting factors) of the restoration were assessed together for each goal in river sections. As a result of the method, river sections with different restoration potential can be identified, and the territorial priorities of different restoration goals can be assessed. The criteria system of the method can be used on other rivers, even in other countries, but the assessment should take into account the reference characteristics / target condition of the given river reach, which may differ. The results of the research can help in the preliminary planning of the restoration of urban rivers. The method allows for the territorial delimitation of individual restoration goals and the joint assessment of the need and possibilities for restoration.