Constructed marginal shallow water zones along a navigable canal: possibilities and constraints for helophyte and aquatic vegetation
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Kliniekstraat 25, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium
* Corresponding author: Andy.firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: 3 December 2012
Accepted: 20 March 2013
Banks of navigable canals are often stabilized with “hard” materials resulting in unsuitable conditions for marginal riparian vegetation. A constructed marginal shallow and sheltered water zone can favour riparian vegetation. In 1998, a new canal branch with shallow water zones was constructed along the canal Ghent-Bruges (Belgium). This study analysed plant vegetation development of these shallow zones, its spatial variation and its mid-way succession. For this purpose, riparian vegetation was investigated by plots in the middle of the shallow water zones, on the canal bank side and on the defence dam side in 2006 and 2009. The studied shallow water zones permitted the development of helophyte vegetation on the sides but hardly in the middle. Differences in number of taxa, diversity-index and Grime's competitiveness and ruderality were observed on the sides. The application of different construction materials is discussed as a possible cause. An increase of competitiveness and a decrease of ruderality indicated vegetation succession during the period 2006–2009. Rooted aquatic plant vegetation was poorly developed in the studied shallow water zones probably due to the deposition and accumulation of fine sediments. The results were interpreted in relation to possible design principles of shallow water zones and might be useful for waterway managers, policy-makers and technicians in future bank engineering projects along navigable canals. Moreover, the study contributes to the knowledge of mitigating negative ecological effects associated with navigation. Such bank rehabilitation measures may be necessary to achieve the ecological goals of the European Water Framework Directive.
Key words: bank stabilization / bank rehabilitation / riparian vegetation / Water Framework Directive / navigation
© EDP Sciences, 2013