Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Restoration of Rivers Used for Timber Floating: Effects on Riparian Plant Diversity

Helfield, James M.; Capon, Samantha J; Nilsson, Christer; Jansson, Roland; Palm, Daniel


Fluvial processes such as flooding and sediment deposition play a crucial role in structuring riparian plant communities. In rivers throughout the world, these processes have been altered by channelization and other anthropogenic stresses. Yet despite increasing awareness of the need to restore natural flow regimes for the preservation of riparian biodiversity, few studies have examined the effects of river restoration on riparian ecosystems. In this study, we examined the effects of restoration in the Ume River system, northern Sweden, where tributaries were channelized to facilitate timber floating in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Restoration at these sites involved the use of heavy machinery to replace instream boulders and remove floatway structures that had previously lined stream banks and cut off secondary channels. We compared riparian plant communities along channelized stream reaches with those along reaches that had been restored 3-10 years prior to observation. Species richness and evenness were significantly increased at restored sites, as were floodplain inundation frequencies. These findings demonstrate how river restoration and associated changes in fluvial disturbance regimes can enhance riparian biodiversity. Given that riparian ecosystems tend to support a disproportionate share of regional species pools, these findings have potentially broad implications for biodiversity conservation at regional or landscape scales.


biodiversity; boreal; flooding; fluvial disturbance; forest; restoration; riparian; river; Sweden; timber floating; vegetation

Published in

Ecological Applications
2007, volume: 17, number: 3, pages: 840-851

Authors' information

Helfield, James M.
Umeå University
Capon, Samantha J
Monash University
Nilsson, Christer
Umeå University
Jansson, Roland
Umeå University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquaculture

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)