Can lateral mobility be restored along a highly domesticated low-energy gravel-bed river? - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Environmental Management Year : 2023

Can lateral mobility be restored along a highly domesticated low-energy gravel-bed river?

Nathalie Thommeret
Hervé Piégay
  • Function : Author
Emmanuèle Gautier
  • Function : Author


Fluvial engineering works such as weirs, rip-rap, groynes, and dykes have constrained for decades and more the lateral mobility of rivers, one of the key drivers of aquatic and riparian diversity. Preserving or restoring a sufficient space for river mobility has therefore become a major river management focus. Because the success and relevance of management actions are conditioned by the level of energy and sediment supply of rivers, such actions are generally considered unsuitable for low-energy rivers. However, some low-energy rivers have numerous ancient engineering works along their length, especially bank protections, suggesting a potential capacity for bed migration. In this context, it is essential to determine to what extent planform dynamics is disturbed, and if lateral mobility can be restored. Herein, a case study was done on a 146 km stretch of the lowenergy meandering gravel-bed Cher River (France). The goal of the study was to estimate the remnant shifting capacity, identify the factors controlling the location and intensity of lateral erosion, determine the potential for preserving and restoring lateral mobility, and examine management measures that could be implemented to this end. For that, field surveys, analysis of existing databases, aerial photographs, and laser imaging detection and ranging digital elevation model (LiDAR DEM) data were combined. The study revealed a strong longitudinal fragmentation of the river, with most of it laterally constrained due to the presence of anthropogenic structures such as bank protections, former gravel pits in the alluvial plain, bridges, and weirs. The river is now composed of a string of constrained and unconstrained reaches, and the space available for river shifting has been dramatically reduced. Due to these fluvial engineering works and anthropogenic legacies, the potential for lateral movement of the riverbed, and, therefore, diversification of riparian and aquatic habitats, is limited. Furthermore, lateral mobility could be preserved or restored only for very short sections of the river. It is therefore highly unlikely that good ecological status could be achieved on the entire river corridor through removal of bank protections. Nevertheless, a possible solution could be combining bank protection removals with a series of gravel augmentations close to each other.
Not file

Dates and versions

hal-03853525 , version 1 (15-11-2022)



Thomas Dépret, Nathalie Thommeret, Hervé Piégay, Emmanuèle Gautier. Can lateral mobility be restored along a highly domesticated low-energy gravel-bed river?. Journal of Environmental Management, 2023, 325, pp.116485. ⟨10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.116485⟩. ⟨hal-03853525⟩
35 View
0 Download



Gmail Facebook Twitter LinkedIn More