Rhone Restoration Ecological Project (02:37)
Sourced in the Alps, the river flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Flooding in December 2003 was partly due to efforts to contain it for economic gain. Scientists are working to build a more sustainable river.
Damaged River (02:20)
Geographers fly over the Rhone and explain that development has disrupted its natural pathways. The Dom River resembles its original landscape, with wide and shallow channels.
Engineering the Rhone (02:41)
In 1840, authorities reduced its width from 2 kilometers to 200 meters to improve navigation. Dykes, groynes, and sediment traps helped channel the waterway. Scientists compare old maps with the river's present course.
Secondary Branches (03:02)
A river is a dynamic, living entity. Girardon's engineering system overlooked the importance of river banks to its integrity. The Rhone Restoration Project will reconnect side flows to the main waterway.
Ecological Restoration (03:17)
Ecologists seek to provide species habitats to the Rhone and increase biodiversity. They began reconnecting secondary branches in 1999; researchers observe habitat developments each spring.
Rhone Channel Excavation (03:58)
Scientists want to restore the Rhone ecologically and increase biodiversity. CNR construction crews move earth to restore secondary branches, avoiding river banks to conserve the alluvial forest.
Waterway Engineering Impacts (02:38)
The CNR excavates former secondary branches in the hopes that species will migrate to the restored areas. As the Rhone channels were narrowed, the river bed deepened and became uninhabitable for flora and fauna—a process scientists call paving.
Collecting Sediment (03:22)
Scientists take samples of paved areas of the Rhone River bed. Paving forms a silt carpet that prevents invertebrate eggs from lodging and disrupts their life cycles. Diverse stone sizes indicate the bed is still shifting.
Collecting Fish (02:57)
Scientists use electric angling to take samples of fish species. All age groups are represented, indicating that restored habitats are enabling them to complete their life cycles.
Rhone River Restoration Project Evaluation (03:08)
Scientists meet to analyze data. Quantifying results is difficult due to a lack of follow up. The Mortier secondary branch provides a baseline for studying ecological evolution and contains diverse aquatic plant species.
Rhone Hydropower (03:55)
Hydroelectric plants divert river water necessary to improve species diversity for ecological restoration. View an explanation of dam models that reduce flow to 5% of the original river.
Returning Water to the Old Rhone (04:24)
The Rhone River Restoration Project aims to increase in-stream flow rates in hydroelectric dam diversion areas—causing a reduction in energy output. After four years of negotiations, the CNR has agreed to compromise. Biodiversity has increased as a result.
Rhone River Overheating (04:41)
Geographers use thermal cameras to monitor water depth and temperature in a diverted section. Shallower areas and areas downstream from nuclear power plants are warmer. Sediment traps are rich in aquatic life; scientists consider rejoining them to the main channel.
Rhone River Nuclear Plants (04:07)
Water used to cool reactors is released to waterway. Fish populations, habitats and life cycles are disturbed by temperature differences and by changes in water level by hydroelectric dams upstream.
Future of the Rhone River (04:15)
Economic benefits of nuclear and hydroelectric plants have overshadowed ecological benefits. The Rhone River Restoration Project has increased biodiversity, but sustainability has not yet been achieved. The CNR continues demolishing man made barriers.
Credits: Rhone, the Rebirth of a River (00:32)
Credits: Rhone, the Rebirth of a River
For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126 (press option 3) or email@example.com.