Stage 0 - Floodplain Reconnection

Themes > Stage 0 - Floodplain Reconnection

Stage 0 - Floodplain Reconnection



Stage 0 floodplain reconnection, considers the natural pre-disturbance ('Stage 0') state of rivers. This approach involves landscape-scale restoration, completely altering the recognised norm of a single thread channel and allowing the river to reconnect with the floodplain and a raised water table. This helps return natural hydromorphological and ecological processes, habitat availability and biodiversity, and a more resilient mosaic of habitats, than in-channel restoration.

There is strong evidence that prior to human disturbance, (ie at ‘Stage 0’) many watercourses in depositional reaches naturally flowed through multiple, low banked anabranching or anastomosing, channels that were well connected hydrologically to wetlands within the floodplain. River restoration projects have historically focused on ‘re-meandering’ straightened streams, working on the assumption that these streams had single-thread meandering channel planforms initially. Restoration of the valley requires thinking beyond the river channel.

Stage 0 is not a river restoration technique itself, instead it is a state in the history of our river landscapes.  Restoration towards that state will use various techniques (i.e. infilling, or raising the level of, the riverbed together with rewetting the floodplain in order to achieve a more naturally functioning “Stage-0” state or condition.

In the farmed lowland landscape of the UK, a hybrid approach of wide re-wetted floodplain corridor with multithread channels and wet grassland valley bottom agriculture could be considered. This application of floodplain reconnection in a farmed landscape is being implemented on the National Trust Holnicote Estate, and is being considered elsewhere.

Source: Länsstyrelsen Östergötland, Sweden

How does it link to river restoration?

This restoration approach can be applied where there is room to release smaller streams into their valley bottoms/floodplains to develop complex mosaics of wetland habitats, wet woodland and multithread channels.

Landuse, landownership and upstream and downstream impacts require careful consideration of where and when to be able to successfully apply this approach.

Related projects

- video to River Aller webinar

News & events
Related links & papers
Input to this page
Do you know of anything to add to this page, such as a recent news article, research study or event? Please email us and let us know so we can update this content.