WaReLa - Water Retention by Land use

Development of transnational instruments for spatial planning to decrease flood disasters by precautionary land-use in meso-scale catchment areas 


General Information about the WaReLa Project

Flood at River Ruwer
Flood at River Ruwer

In addition to flood disasters on major rivers, damage caused by the flooding of smaller and medium-sized tributaries is also of considerable significance. To ensure that flood protection measures are effective, engineering flood prevention measures on the rivers must be supported by integrated catchment management. This includes preventive water retention measures implemented in the sectors of forestry, agriculture and in residential areas.
These instruments and specific regional planning procedures can form the basis for co-operative international river basin management to ensure the permanent precaution of flood damage and, like the EU Water Framework Directive, promote high-quality and ecological international river basin management.

WaReLa pursues the following objectives:

Retention in Urban Area
Retention in Natural Area
  1. Quantification of the influence of land use, landscape structures and geological factors on the incidence of flooding
  2. Realisation of land use measures in the forestal and agricultural sectors, in the open waters and river valleys and in residential areas for the precaution of flood damage and the quantification of water retention potentials through field measurements and precipitation-run off models.
  3. Simulation of possible scenarios of measures in the project areas and evaluation of the economic, ecological and water management efficiency within the scope of an eco-efficiency analysis
  4. Elaboration of regional steering elements for transnational river basin management and flood protection
  5. Development of an internationally-applicable spatial planning instrument - the "eco-efficient Decision Support System (DSS) for flood and retention potential in spatial planning"

The Project Area


The Project Partners


The Remote Sensing Department in WaReLa

Regional land cover classification Rhineland-Palatinate (RLP) 2000

Classification of land cover from Remote Sensing (RS) data at regional and local scales.

  • Acquisition of Landsat TM and ETM+ imagery of 2000 (April, May, June, September)
  • Geometric and radiometric pre-processing of Landsat images
  • Unsupervised classification of image data into 7 land cover classes
  • Post classification procedure
  • Accuracy assessment of land cover map using ATKIS-data as reference information within a random sampling scheme
  • Map products on demand

Regional land cover change for Rhineland-Palatinate (RLP) 1975-1984-2000

Mapping of land cover changes in flood relevant areas by land use as part of the Hydrological Information System and water retention potentials.

Local mapping of agricultural crops

Line- and land-use structures

Mapping of line structures and land-use structures from high spatial resolution RS data and transfer from micro to meso scale as part of food relevance of landscape structures and the Hydrological Information System

Soil moisture patterns

Derivation of soil moisture patterns in the lower Kyll-basin as part of flood relevant landscape structures and the Hydrological Information System

Mapping of biophysical and structural variables in public forests and privately owned forests

Mapping of forest types from RS data in privately owned forests and assessment of quantitative forest variables (such as leaf area index) relevant to hydrological processes as part of flood relevant areas by land-use and the Hydrological Information System


G. Schüler, L. Pfister, M. Vohland, S. Seeling & J. Hill (2011): Large scale approaches to forest and water interactions. In: M. Bredemeier, S. Cohen., D. Godbold, E. Lode, V. Pichler & P. Schleppi (Eds.): Forest management and the water cycle - An ecosystem-based approach. Ecological Studies, Vol. 212, S. 435-452, Berlin, Heidelberg & New York.

S. Seeling, L. Schefczyk, H. Buddenbaum & S. Nilles (2008): Visualisierung von Landschaftsveränderung und Hochwassergefahr als Beitrag zur Verbesserten Risikowahrnehmung. In: U. Haberlandt, B. Riemeier, M. Billib, H.-R. Verworn & H.-B. Kleeberg (Hrsg): Hochwasser, Wassermangel, Gewässerverschmutzung - Problemlösungen mit modernen hydrologischen Methoden, Forum für Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung, Heft 23.08, S. 139-146

S. Seeling, T. Sauer, Ch. Müller & S. Nink (2006): Bewertung von Abflussrelevanz und Dynamik der Oberbodenfeuchte ackerbaulich genutzter Flächen des Bitburger Gutlandes unter Verwendung heterogener SAR - Datenreihen. In: M. Casper & M. Herbst (Hrsg): Beiträge zum RIMAX-Workshop am 10./11. April 2006 in Trier, Forum für Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung, Heft 16.06, S. 105-118.

S. Seeling, I. Gellweiler, J. Hill &  G. Schüler (Hrsg, 2008): Wege zum dezentralen Hochwasserschutz - Erfahrungen und Beispiele nachhaltigen Einzugsgebietsmanagements im Mittelgebirgsraum. Trierer Geographische Schriften, Heft 31, Trier.

I. Gellweiler, S. Seeling, A. Hefcyk & J. Hill (Hrsg., 2007): Proceedings of the 1st scientific conference on integrated catchmentmanagement for hazard mitigation. 24.-26. September 2007, Trier. ubt.opus.hbz-nrw.de/volltexte/2007/438.

G. Schüler, I. Gellweiler & S. Seeling (Hrsg., 2007): Dezentraler Wasserrückhalt in der Landschaft durch vorbeugende Maßnahmen in der Waldwirtschaft, der Landwirtschaft und im Siedlungswesen. Mitteilungen aus der Forschungsanstalt für Waldökologie und Forstwirtschaft Rheinland-Pfalz, Nr. 64/97, Trippstadt.


Stephan Seeling