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Good ecological status of an agricultural stream - introducing Integrated Buffer Zones in a holistic approach (LIFE-GOODSTREAM)
Start date: Sep 30, 2015, End date: Sep 30, 2021 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background It is estimated that food production must double by 2050 to ensure sufficient food for the world’s growing population (United Nations General Assembly report (GA/EF/3242). Scarcity of water as well as reconciling intensive agriculture with the water quality goals are among the largest challenges for increasing agricultural production. Despite substantial efforts in recent decades, leaching of nutrients from agricultural land is still a serious and costly environmental problem. To meet the targets of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) for the aquatic and marine environment, substantial reduction of the current diffuse phosphorus and nitrogen loads from farmland in most European member states is required. Furthermore, climate change is expected to both increase nutrient losses in northern European countries, and increase the vulnerability of aquatic systems to nutrient loadings due to changes in seasonal runoff patterns as well as higher water temperatures, which requires even larger reductions in nutrient loads. Drainage of agricultural land is most often a prerequisite for food production. Tile drains and ditches, however, directly connect fields with receiving waters and act as subsurface highways for nutrients. End-of-pipe solutions have an obvious potential. This calls for a shift of paradigm towards the development of new, cost-efficient technologies to mitigate site-specific nutrient losses in agricultural drainage systems. Objectives The LIFE-GOODSTREAM will implement and document a holistic approach to agricultural management on a catchment level that includes new and innovative cleaning methods of drainage water to demonstrate the potential of drainage filters as cost-efficient measures for: Reducing nutrient losses to the aquatic and marine environment; Reducing peak flow events from agricultural drainage systems; and Viewing the leaching nutrients as a resource instead of waste by increasing the possibility of re-circulation of retained nutrients. The first phase will be to identify sites for site-specific facilities using GIS, innovative technologies (e.g. Hexacopter) and data from current monitoring and landowner knowledge. This phase will include a range of information and awareness-raising actions to involve the landowners in the project. The second phase will be to construct integrated buffer zones, level wetlands and optimised constructed wetlands with the aim of reducing nutrient losses from arable land to the stream and retaining the water in the landscape. To further reduce flood risks in the lower part of the catchment an urban storm water pond will be established. To simultaneously improve biodiversity and landscape connectivity, creotopes will be introduced as a general measure at all sites. Furthermore, a special bio-passage will be constructed to connect the entire stream that is currently split into two parts by a migration barrier. Sites for facilities for nutrient retention will be located according to topography and drainage systems. Habitat enhancements and measures for increased landscape connectivity will be located and designed according to species distribution and habitat isolation. The hydrological function of the facilities and the results on nutrient transport and biodiversity will be demonstrated and documented to get reliable data on the effects of the facilities/measures. Expected results: The project GOODSTREAM will create/ produce: 30 integrated buffer zones; Two level wetlands; Six optimised constructed wetlands; 60 creotopes (created biotopes) including 30 small amphibian ponds; 500 nest boxes (focus on birds, bats and insects, chosen according to environment and population data; A bio-passage in the stream (removal of last migration barrier); An urban storm water pond; A field information centre with additional demonstration sites at different facilities; Lowered phosphorous level in the stream to 50 microgrammes/litre; Improved continuity due to removal of migration barrier; A 10% increase in salmonide density; and A 20 % reduction in flood risk in Trönninge village.

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