Increasing ecological value of structure

Description of measure

This measure describes retro-fitting of existing structures to accommodate niche habitats for a range of species within them, as opposed to more substantial structural modifications that would be likely to deliver greater hydromorphological change but may not be possible given the use.


Increasing the ecological value of structures should preferably be considered as a last resort. Prior to selecting this approach, consideration should firstly be given to the function of the structure and the potential for its removal (see Remove Obsolete Structure) or replacement with an alternative solution.  If alternative options are feasible, measures may be taken to modify the structure to accommodate habitats within. The following structures are considered:

  • Flood walls.
  • Embankments.
  • Weirs.

Benefits for Water Framework Directive

The loss of habitat from flood risk management infrastructure can be mitigated by either incorporating features that reduce the impact of the structure or that improve the ecological value of the structure itself.

Enhancing ecological value can have the dual benefit of increasing the landscape and public amenity value of the structures themselves – e.g. by encouraging vegetation growth around the structure. Landscape considerations in relation to the design of structures are specifically discussed in the Environment Agency’s Landscape and Environmental Design Guide (Environment Agency, 2007)

To read more about the effectiveness of the measure within academic literature please click here: Effectiveness for Biological Quality Elements

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