The project Riparian Remote Monitoring for river management in Wallonia (RiReMo project) is funded by BELSPO (Belgian Science Policy Office) in the frame of the STEREO III programme (SR/00/347).

A summary of the project is available below. For more details, please contact Adrien Michez (adrien.michez@ulg.ac.be – 0032 / 81 62 23 81 )

  • Context

 Riparian zones are central landscape features providing several ecosystem services and are exceptionally rich in biodiversity. Since the end of the last century, river and riparian buffers management has become more and more multifunctional: flood risk mitigation, growing of urbanization, natural habitat protection and endangered species conservation. Several of those objectives of management have been acknowledged in European directives: Natural habitats (Natura 2000, 92/43/EEC), Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and Floods Directive (2007/60/EC). To apply those directives at the local scale, Wallonia has approved in 2012 the implementation of action programs for rivers by an integrated and sectorized approach (« PARIS » action program). The PARIS programs will gather at the scale of a river sector (ca. 1-3 km long) all the actions planned by the different public administrations related to river bank and riparian zone management. These directives involve effective multi-scale monitoring (local to network scales) to target restoration activities when needed and to assess the success of previous management actions or existing management policies.

The intention af the administration to develop a completely remotely sensed approach of this monitoring will allow automated analysis of the regional network with cost-effective and easily repeatable methods. The RiReMo project will develop an original approach combining 3D data (low temporal resolution/very high spatial resolution) with satellite optical data (high temporal resolution/high spatial resolution) to characterize the riparian zone quality through various indicators of its ecological integrity, hydromorphological quality and physical settings.

  • Theme

 Large-scale monitoring of river and riparian buffer with remote sensing.

  • Objectives

       Scientific objectives:

The RiReMo project will face the challenge of combining various datasets (spatial/temporal resolutions, sensors) in order to effectively implement a monitoring of the Walloon riparian zone from local (1-3 km long) to regional network (13000 km). Indicators will be developed to precisely describe the riparian zone of Wallonia, with a focus on the riparian vegetation (especially forest stands) and the physical characteristics of the riparian zone. At a local scale (river sector), the project will have to extract information on riparian zone which will be used to build indicators. The main goal is to provide accurate information about the physical conditions (topography, channel morphology) and forest conditions (height, longitudinal continuity, water accessibility) of riparian buffers, as well as the interaction between them (overhanging character of riparian forest). Previous works of the research team will be used as a basis in terms of indicators of the conditions riparian area.

The indicators will have to be aggregated from local scale (river sector: 1-3 km) to regional scale (13000 km long), using specific geomatic procedures to manage those consistent datasets with respect to its networking character.

Once implemented at the Walloon hydrographic network scale, those indicators will be used to assess the riparian zone quality in terms of ecological integrity and hydromorphology. Further analysis of those preliminary outcomes will extract management indicators which will be used as decision-making tools for the planning and evaluating of riparian zone management:

–          Evaluate management strategy: e.g. priorization of river sectors in relation with ecological network or the presence of endangered habitats

–          Localize areas with high potential for river restoration

–          Rationalize riparian forest strips management: e.g. maintenance logging planning in relation with height data

       Operational objectives:

The RiReMo project will develop an effective remotely sensed monitoring of the riparian zone of Wallonia, allowing the administration to plan and evaluate its « PARIS » sectorized program of actions at mid-term and final term. To ensure the repeatability of the process, the project will only use data which are totally free-of-charge (case of Sentinel-2 data) or already acquired on a regular basis by the administration (LiDAR data and orthophoto surveys raw images).

Special attention will be devoted to the good transferability of the result and skills, notably via the online webgis platform devoted to PARIS actions programs and ready-to-use routines. The aim is to allow the administration to repeat the monitoring after the end of the RiReMo project.