New re-wilding project set to totally transform the Limmat River in Zurich

New re-wilding project set to totally transform the Limmat River in Zurich

Authorities in Canton Zurich have announced a plan that would totally transform the Limmat River. The plan will see a 3,2 kilometre long stretch of the river re-wilded, creating new habitats for local and migrating animals.

Living Limmat project proposed to transform the Swiss river

The “Living Limmat” project, announced by Canton Zurich, is designed to rewild a 3,2 kilometre stretch of the river, from the bridge that serves the motorway near Zurich to the Überlandstrasse bridge near Dietikon. Authorities said that "the Limmat should come alive again," and be made the perfect habitat for nature.

The planning department said that previous efforts to straighten and restrict the Limmat in the 19th century - in order to reclaim farmland and prevent flooding - had completely destroyed the natural environment along the river. While “it was an engineering masterpiece of the late 19th century as the wild Limmat became more predictable and only seldom burst its banks…no one knew what kind of damage would be done to nature,” the statement read.

Canton Zurich hopes to repair the damage done to local wildlife

“The Limmat near Schlieren is not a good habitat for animals and plants today. Squeezed into a stone corset, it has atrophied into a monotonous, ecologically impoverished band of water," the canton said, arguing that the river should be made much wider to help bring back some of the nature that had been lost.

The plan would remove a large amount of the concrete embankment that currently controls the Limmat, allowing the river to flow freely, spread out and form islands in the new stream. Authorities hope that the project would create a “green oasis for those looking for relaxation” in the busy city and river valley.

It is expected that the new diverse habitat will allow stunning creatures to return to the river, from dragonflies to kingfishers. For those fearing a flood, the canton said that the Limmat is only likely to burst its banks every 300 years, and that other protective concepts have already been introduced. 

See what the Limmat River will look like in 2040

Construction on the project is expected to conclude in 2029, and full "re-naturing" is expected by the end of 2040. Here’s what the project will look like when it is complete:

Video: Kanton Zuerich / YouTube

For more information check out the official press release (in German).

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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