Wetlands for Clear Water - International conference on the role of wetlands for the protection of the Baltic Sea
Eutrophication belongs to the most severe ecological problems of the Baltic Sea. Baltic rivers carry large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous, more than half of which originate from agricultural lands. Eutrophication of the Baltic Sea leads to algal blooms which deteriorate marine habitats through drastically decreased water transparency and oxygen depletion. The Baltic Sea Action of HELCOM addresses the need for action in its programmatic "clear water" objective.
In the context of river basin management for Baltic Sea tributaries, wetlands can play an important role in reducing diffuse nutrient inputs from agriculture. This is reflected in many water and marine protection policies, from the Water Framework Directive to the Baltic Sea Action Plan and - most recently - the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. In practice, however, little use is made of wetlands for nutrient retention.
Bearing this in mind, the conference "Wetlands for Clear Water" - organised by the Green League in cooperation with the Coalition Clean Baltic, the University of Greifswald and the Polish Ecological Club (Gliwice Chapter) on 24th-25th March 2011 in Greifswald, Germany - focussed on the question how wetland management can become operational for achieving the "clear water" objective of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, particularly in Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries.
Experiences with restoration and rewetting of disturbed wetlands were presented and discussed along with options for adapted agricultural use (examples from Germany, Poland and Lithuania). A report from Sweden summarized the extensive experiences have been made since the 1990s with the targeted use of wetlands in the agricultural landscape, with high cost-efficiency and acceptance by the farming community. Strategic approaches such as peatland rehabilitation programs in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as well as wetlands planning in Lithuania were also discussed.
The field trip on March 25 offered the opportunity to get an onsite impression of restoration projects in the Peene and Trebel river valleys illustrating different approaches and management strategies as well as ecological benefits achieved.
Participants of the conference came from research institutions, environmental NGOs, competent authorities from both water management and agriculture as well as policy consultants.
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