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What Is Meant by River Restoration


The philosophy and practice of river restoration originated from Europe. The definition of river restoration from predecessor studies includes what Gore proposed as a concept in 1985, which was that river restoration is to restore the ecosystem to a condition hardly interrupted by humans. In 1987, Jordan et al thought the process of repairing the damage which humans caused to the force and variety of the ecosystem should be called river restoration. In 1991, Cairns defined river restoration as the construction and function of the river being completely restored to the condition before being interrupted by humans. In 1992, NRC proposed that river restoration was to reconstruct the related features of the functions of the water area, such as physics, chemistry, biology, etc. before the river environment was interrupted by humans and to restore the ecosystem to the condition before being nearly interrupted.

In general, according to studies in the past, the more serious definition for river restoration meant “Repairing the damage caused by human activities, reconstructing the eco-environment system of the river, and restoring it to the natural condition not interrupted by human activities regarding its structure and function.” However, in fact, it is hard to restore a river system to its original condition since now the original environment state of the rivers before being interrupted by human activities is unknown from historical materials. Therefore, in practice, the river can only be restored to a certain natural ecological environment, which is somewhat ideal, before its being substantially developed and interrupted. However, since the so-called somewhat ideal condition is more subjective by definition, therefore, there are stages and gradualness to the definition and target of river restoration.

Nowadays, river restoration is more extensive and reasonable, and its definition accepted by through time is “Restoring and improving a certain function or more than one in the eco-environment system of the river.” For example, continuously improving the vertical and horizontal direction of the river corridor, restoring the function of the natural sand conveyance, improving water quality, restoring the habitat of indicator species, enhancing the variety of the habitat, constructing the landscape, etc.

Most projects of the river restoration promoted at the present stage belong to the restoration and improvement of the quality of the river environment. Relevant basic information, such as sufficient physiographic, hydrology, and ecology, are essential first for carrying out the restoration project of the environment quality of the river. Once the relevant information is equipped, the proper method of the restoration will be able to be proposed. In addition, the target of the restoration will be able to be gradually accomplished through supervision and evaluation over the long term.


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