Land for flood risk management—Instruments and strategies of land management for polders and dike relocations in Germany

Albrecht, Juliane; Hartmann, Thomas


Like many other countries, Germany aims to create flood retention areas via polders and dike relocations. As these measures require access to diverse plots, land acquisition is clearly a challenging task for the responsible water authorities. A revision to the national water law in 2017 introduced several new instruments for land acquisition, i.e. pre-emption rights and regulations to ease expropriation, in order to facilitate the realization of flood protection infrastructure. Nonetheless, interviews with representatives of Germany's various water authorities have shown that, in practice, these new instruments are widely neglected in favor of established forms of land acquisition such as strategic land banking and familiar instruments of land consolidation. This contribution explores the reasons for this low uptake of the new instruments. The study also reveals that in terms of land management, there is considerable unclarity in regard to the management of land within controlled flood polders, in the dike foreland (floodplains) and between first and second dike lines, in particular which instruments are best suited to achieve practicable solutions.