During the past decades human interference in regional hydrologic systems has intensified. These systems act as an integrating medium. They link climate, human activities and ecologic processes through groundwater and surface water interactions. For simulating these linkages an integrated regional hydrologic model has been coupled to an ecologic evaluation model. The simulated ecologic effects of climate change on mesotrophic riverine grasslands are clearly positive. Simulation results also indicate a high sensitivity of the peak discharges to the precipitation. For modelling the long-term development of land use and water management an integrated ‘bio-economic’ model has been constructed. It includes a model for the development of agriculture. Results for the autonomous development in reaction to climate change indicate a strong increase of field drainage by agriculture. This development would substantially reduce the predicted positive effects of climate change on riverine grasslands. The challenge is to guide regional developments in such a manner that opportunities for improving nature are not lost, but that at the same time the peak discharges are kept under control. Flow retardation in the ‘fine arteries’ of the upstream areas appear to be a viable option for the latter. The bio-economic model can provide help in anticipating on climate change through spatial planning.

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