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Using a multi-criteria analysis to identify rivers with hydromorphological restoration priority: Braided rivers in the south-eastern Subcarpathians (Romania)

Ioana-Toroimac, Gabriela, Zaharia, Liliana, Minea, Gabriel, Moroșanu, Gabriela Adina
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.599-600 pp. 700-709
ecological restoration, humans, rivers, stream channels, watersheds, Romania
In order to systematically plan river restoration actions at a regional scale, this paper develops a multi-criteria analysis that classifies rivers, based on their priority for hydromorphological restoration. This priority is defined by severe human pressures within the erodible corridor of the river, drastic alteration of the stream channel, and low intensity of river pattern functioning. Based on relevant indicators for three groups of features (human pressures, channel changes, and river functionality), a Hydromorphological Restoration Priority Index (HRPI) was designed. The high values (>66%) of HRPI reflect an urgent need for hydromorphological restoration while low values (<33%) reveal a less immediate necessity for restoration. The proposed methodology was applied on braided sectors of rivers crossing the south-eastern (Curvature) Subcarpathians (Romania). The values of the total HRPI ranged between 21% (Zăbrăuţ River) and almost 44% (Prahova River). According to our results, most of the analyzed sectors have a low need for hydromorphological restoration of the braided pattern, while some have a moderate necessity for restoration. Whereas the Prahova River has the highest HRPI, it should be given priority for restoration at a regional scale, which corresponds to the objectives of River Basin Management Plans for the interval beyond 2021.