Project budget5 526 620 €
ERDF amount3 315 972 €
Build resilience against droughts (and water scarcity) by enhancing infiltration and water retention capacity of landscapes in regions of strategic importance for drinking water production. Climate projections for the 2 seas area, point towards dryer and warmer summers with more extreme and concentrated precipitation events (summer storms). This could result in a higher demand for water production (on hot, dry days, water consumption can triple). Increased water abstractions volumes during summer will have high impacts at an already critical moment for water dependent ecosystems. This will aggravate the conflict between water provisioning and biodiversity conservation. Restoring and developing blue-green structures in landscapes improves the hydrological resilience to droughts and floods, provides substantial climate mitigation benefits and benefits biodiversity.
The overall objective is to build resilience against droughts (and extreme precipitation events) through Ecosystem based Adaptation measures. Therefore it is our key objective to develop and implement a PES-model (Payment for Ecosystem Services) that facilitates the actual implementation of Ecosystem Based Adaptation measures. Independent organisations that work on landscape rehabilitation can thus play a role as ‘ethical brokers’ in providing services (by selecting/funding/implementing measures) to society. By identifying, quantifying and demonstrating the additional benefits (ecosystem services) of the ecosystem-based adaptation measures, it becomes possible to recognize the full spectrum of the benefits (Ecosystem Services) that are associated with Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) measures and provide additional leverage for implementation.
- WP1: POLICY ANALYSIS will deliver an output that provides guidance on how to develop a rewarding scheme for EbA measures that promote infiltration and restoration. How to identify buyers, brokers and sellers and set up partnerships, including recommendations on ethical, political, juridical and organisational challenges.
- WP2: TOOLBOX development will deliver 1) a tool for spatial prioritization and evaluation of EbA measures and 2) a tool to quantify the co-benefits of EbA measures
- WP3: VISION BUILDING will develop a long-term assessment and vision on water demand and supply challenges in the 2 Seas Region (WP3), making use of participatory approaches (workshops & meetings with buyers and brokers).
- WP4 IMPLEMENTATION will showcase the effective implementation (investments) of EbA measures in the field (good practices). For each site, we will quantify the impacts and produce information panes for visitors to the sites.
Cross border approach
Climate change will affect the 2 Seas region similarly, but the impact of drought and water scarcity is often neglected. The cross-border project is needed to fill the information gap to policy and the general public, about the need for long-term drought risk strategies to address water scarcity and drought risk. This project can achieve the necessary momentum for the concept of ecosystem based water scarcity and drought mitigation strategies. There is a high complementarity of expertise. A spatially explicit ES-assessment tool is available from the ECOPLAN project (BE), whilst the UK partners have vast experience in setting up and managing PES-schemes with the Upstream Water Thinking project, the NL partners with implementation and demonstration. For each region at least a water production company, authority and a research institute is included as partner or observer. Such partnerships are a strong signal towards policy and may create a momentum in the water sector to take action.
The PROWATER spatial prioritisation tool developed by Antwerp University (PP2) is actively taken up by policy, impacting the capacity to implement Ecosystem-based Adaptation beyond the PROWATER investment sites. The tool is used in numerous planning projects, including cross-border projects. The drafting of municipal water management plans in Flanders and almost all waste water managers have requested the maps for more than 100 Flemish municipalities.
The importance of transboundary collaboration was illustrated by the cross-border workshop organised by Waterschap Brabantse Delta (PP5), University of Antwerp (PP2), Province of Antwerp (PP3) and the Flemish Government (LP1), focussing on sustainable water resources the lowland brooks in the Campine region. As in the other 2 Seas regions, these PROWATER workshops aim to develop a participatory long-term vision building approach for tackling drought and sustainable water resources in the regions.
PROWATER is investing in monitoring to further quantify the impact of EbA measures, strengthening the modelling approach used in the PROWATER ECOPLAN tool. South East Water (PP7) and South East Rivers Trust (PP10) have installed soil moisture profile probes in Friston Forest and Lullington Heath. These probes will provide data to quantify the effect of habitat switching on groundwater levels in the aquifer beneath the trial area.
Works in the investment sites (IS), demonstrating EbA measures, advanced well despite all odds in this crisis year. Restoration of the Scheppelijke Nete valley by Provincie Antwerpen (PP3) has been completed. The area has been cleared of obstacles and over a large area topsoil has been removed to reduce nutrients and restore water storage capacity. In IS Den Rooy Natuurpunt (PP9), the raised bog has been addressed by repairing the leak, allowing the raised bog to retain more water. The conifers around the bog are being replaced with heathland and mixed forest. Pidpa (PP4) has started excavation work in IS Oostmalle to remove topsoil and plant the first alders in 2021 as a step towards creating a larger wet alder forest. The partnership between the South East Rivers Trust (PP10), Kent County Council (PP6) and the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership have had several hectares of grassland in the Beult and Nailbourne catchments in Kent re-seeded by the two farmers involved with a species mix that will help to break up the deeper soil layer and improve drainage and infiltration.