Isar-Plan: Improving flood protection and recreational opportunities by redesigning the Isar

Wasserwirtschaftsamt München
Publié: 21 septembre 2017
Dernière modification: 02 octobre 2020
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The project group “Isar-Plan” was initiated in 1995 to restore the Isar river in Munich from its artificial canal bed to a more natural shape and function in order to improve flood control, biodiversity and recreational opportunities. Construction started in 2000 and was finished in 2011 having restored 8km of river and costing 35 million euros.


Europe de l’Ouest et du Sud
Échelle de la mise en œuvre
Rivière, ruisseau
Zone humide urbain
Écosystème urbain
Écosystèmes d'eau douce
Acteurs locaux
Adaptation au changement climatique
Aménagement urbain
Fragmentation et la dégradtion de l'habitat
Gestion des inondations et des incendies
Réduction des risques de catastrophes
Santé et bien-être humain
Services écosystèmiques
Villes et infrastructures
Objectifs de Développement Durable
ODD 6 - Eau propre et assainissement
ODD 11 - Villes et communautés durables
ODD 13 - Mesures relatives à la lutte contre les changements climatiques
ODD 15 - Vie terrestre
ODD 17 - Partenariats pour la réalisation des objectifs
Obectifs d'Aichi
Objectif 2: Valeurs de la biodiversité intégrées
Objectif 15: Restauration et la résilience des écosystèmes
Objectif 19: Partage de l'information et de la connaissance
Cadre d'action de Sendai
4: Réduire nettement, d’ici à 2030, la perturbation des services de base et les dommages causés par les catastrophes aux infrastructures essentielles, y compris les établissements de santé ou d’enseignement, notamment en renforçant leur résilience.


Munich, Germany


Heavy rain events in the Alps in the years of 1999, 2005 and 2013 led to major floods and substantial financial damage in the South of Germany. Such events are likely to increase with climate change. Furthermore, balancing societal and ecological priorities as well as working to remodel the densely populated inner city to implement the river restoration plan was challenging, with disagreements over the design in certain areas as well as what was feasible within the confines of the city.


Given the improved flood protection and the quality of nearby recreational spaces, the main beneficiaries are the surrounding infrastructure, citizens and visitors to the area as well as the economy. The restoration also benefits biodiversity.

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

Strong partnerships and public engagement (building block 1) are essential for the successful implementation of the solution and a prerequisite to allow for multiple goals to be achieved through balancing trade-offs (building block 2). Finally, “learning by doing” (building block 3) allows for improved solutions.

Les impacts positifs

The project successfully improved protection against flooding through developing more of a natural river landscape, which allows space for the river. Indeed, a big flood in 2005 had an effect on the whole catchment area and allowed evidence to show where the restoration had mitigated flood damage. As seen through the impacts of this massive flood in other areas of southern Germany, the restoration of the river Isar has improved flood control and reduced the damage that could have been caused.


The project has also benefited biodiversity through the creation of new habitats for flora and fauna and through allowing fish to move along the river where before they were impeded.


The hydrological status has been also improved to achieve bathing water quality. This means that Munich inhabitants and visitors can swim in the river and benefit from the attractive landscape for many recreational activities.


Wasserwirtschaftsamt München

The Isar river restoration along 8 km in the city of Munich is a spectacular achievement in its ability to accommodate both large floods that regularly impact the area and high recreational usage with up to 30,000 people gathering in the area on warm weekends, while improving biodiversity.


The project group “Isar-Plan” was initiated in 1995 during an investigation of the Munich flood protection systems and amidst an increasing demand for a “closer to nature” urban environment which can offer recreational opportunities. The project was headed by Munich City and the Bavarian Water Board and represents an unparalleled level of interdisciplinary cooperation. After preliminary studies in how to design a project that balanced the aims for flood protection, ecology and recreation, work started in 2000. The main channel was widened from 50m to 90m and a number of measures have been undertaken to restore the natural hydrological function, a near-natural appearance of the river, with ample habitat for flora and fauna and recreation areas, while at the same time ensuring flood protection of the surrounding area.


In 2003 a landscape design completion was launched with public consultation and participation for the last 1.6Km stretch in the heart of the city (that needed to take into account ecological, flood protection and recreational goals). This resulted in controversial discussions and public quarrel because two near opposing projects (an urban functional design vs a total re-naturalised design) were selected as first and second prize. Finally, in 2005, both teams collaborated to provide a compromised design that encompassed the secure flood protection needed within the constraints required by the heavily built up area and a renaturalised appearance.


The restoration finished in 2011.

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