The riparian zone plays an important role in the ecological stability of rivers. In particular, the quality of the riparian vegetation is a significant component of the hydromorphological status. In Europe, the QBR index (Qualitat del Bosc de Ribera) and the River Habitat Survey (RHS) are commonly used for the qualitative assessment of the riparian vegetation taking into account the riparian vegetation cover, the cover structure and the channel alterations. In this study, we estimated the QBR index and the Riparian Quality index, which is derived from the RHS method, for 124 river reaches of the National Monitoring Network of Greece. These reaches were surveyed during the summer periods of 2018, 2019 and 2020, through the implementation of the National Monitoring Program in compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The aim of this study is to assess the riparian vegetation status by comparing these two indices and to identify linkages with the dominant land uses within the catchment. The Riparian Quality Index and the Habitat Modification Score, also estimated from the RHS method, were positively correlated showing that the overall hydromorphological alteration is associated with the degradation of the riparian vegetation. In addition, the QBR index and the Riparian Quality Index correlated negatively with the agricultural land uses in the catchment area and positively with the natural ones (e.g. forests). Both indices seem to present similar quality assessments. These results constitute a first assessment of the status of the riparian zones in Greek rivers in accordance with the WFD and set the basis for further research for the development of new and effective tools for a rapid quality assessment of the riparian zones.
A comparative assessment of the riparian vegetation status using two different indices: Results from a large-scale study in Greece.
Published: 13 November 2020 by MDPI in 5th International Electronic Conference on Water Sciences session Poster
Keywords: QBR Index, Ecological Quality, Riparian Zone, Water Framework Directive, River Habitat Survey, Rivers