By the development of the Rhine as a waterway, along with manifold uses of the water and the banks, which made a fortification of the banks necessary, the Rhine cuts itself into its sole. During the last 100 years, this so-called sole-erosion adds up to almost two metres, about two cm per year. In contrast, the riparian areas silt up by deposited sediments at each flood. This results in an increasing decoupling of river and floodplain, which ultimately reduces the ecological value of the affected areas. The area of the typical alluvial vegetation and the number of typical animals is reduced, and, thus, the valuable habitats of the floodplain become lost.
The EU-Life-project „Wetland restoration in the Rhine floodplain Emmericher Ward“ aims at optimizing the area as a significant part of the EU Bird Sanctuary Unterer Niederrhein. The water resources of the area will be improved and the retreating habitats of common interest will be promoted. The project serves the implementation of the action plan of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the EU Bird Sanctuary Unterer Niederrhein (LANUV 2011), the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive and the optimization of the FFH-area Fischschutzzonen zwischen Emmerich und Bad Honnef.