The impacts of climate change are becoming more severe. In some areas water is projected to become in increasingly short supply in late spring and summer. Flood risk is also projected to increase all year round, due to more intense rainfall, higher sea levels and a possible increase in frequency and magnitude of storms. Wetlands, though, can function as a natural climate buffer, reducing the negative impacts of climate change on people and habitation. In particular, wetlands can not only protect regions against flooding, but can also provide fresh water during periods of drought.
Climate change is also recognized as a major threat to biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are of great importance for biodiversity, and of particular importance for many bird species of European importance (as listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive), as well as for other taxonomic groups such as amphibians, dragonflies, and some butterfly species. Many of these species will be affected by habitat deterioration as a result of climate change; some will shift their ranges northward, but will only succeed in doing so if suitable habitat is available. This project will put in place climate change adaptation measures aimed at optimising both benefits to people and biodiversity, and thereby strengthen the Natura 2000 network.
In particular, the project will:
1. Increase the resilience of wetlands to the effects of climate change by trialling innovative approaches and methods to create, restore and manage wetlands. These will include design and management of flood storage areas to optimise their biodiversity value; introduction of rotational hydrological management to make best use of more limited and variable water resources; innovative design of new wetland habitat intended to increase its resilience to climate change.
2. Evaluate the effectiveness and economic long-term benefits of these ecosystem-based climate adaptation approaches.
3. From (2), identify best practice, and communicate this to practitioners and decision-makers.
This project idea is similar to an Expression of Interest (project title WECCA) submitted to the 2 Seas Programme. WECCA has the same lead partner, but different other partners, and obviously involves a different geographical area. However, we think that all types of projects which involve practical implementation of novel climate change adaptation measures will inevitably be fairly similar (i.e. they will involve putting in place a range of novel adaptation measures, assessing the effectiveness of these measures; and communicating best practice to practitioners and decision-makers). We would particularly appreciate feedback on whether the similarity of these two proposed projects is likely to be a problem for Interreg.
Restoring, or simulating, more natural processes in wetlands is expected to greatly enhance the resilience of ecosystems to the effects of climate change, as well as the recovery of populations of wetland species. Habitats are restored, dispersion is facilitated, species’ distributions are increased, and coping mechanisms of species are enhanced. Resilient wetlands provide ecosystem services to people and the economy by increasing flood security, strengthening the local economy and protecting assets, and increasing the benefits of natural areas to the wider public.
Examples of this ecosystem-based approach to climate adaptation inspire policy
makers, water managers, nature reserve managers, actors in the economic sectors
(recreation, agriculture) and the wider public, and lead to multiplication of
ecosystem-based adaption to climate change.
- Area of wetlands has increased, more natural water dynamics are restored/simulated,
ecosystems are developing/recovering and populations of their characteristic species are increased.
- Project results demonstrate the feasibility and success of ecosystem-based adaptation, and of innovative ways of creating and managing wetlands to increase their resilience to climate change.
- The results of the above inform projects and management at sites beyond the project, at both a national and regional level.
- The results of projects and modelling show that ecosystem-based adaptation is cost-effective and achieves win-wins for nature conservation, recreation, prevention of freshwater flooding to people and property, and coastal defence, and this is widely accepted and informs policies and future projects throughout the entire North Sea Region.
Partners Found Already
It is envisaged that during the project both of these organisations will work more widely with, and demonstrate best practice to, a range of other organisation in the Netherlands (principally through the Natural Climate Buffers Coalition, which involves seven partners) and in the UK. The North Sea region, and the UK and the Netherlands in particular, face common challenges regarding climate change adaptation and wetlands, but the approaches to adaptation often differ between countries. We therefore feel that there are potentially huge benefits in increasing transnational co-operation and knowledge transfer, particularly between the UK and the Netherlands.
Because of this, we do not therefore currently envisage including partners from other countries in this Interreg project. We also feel that concentrating on the UK and the Netherlands should make the project more focussed and manageable. We would, though, particularly appreciate feedback on this intended approach.
Currently identifying two knowledge institutes; one in the UK and one in the Netherlands.
Approximately €5 to €6 million
Climate change adaptation, ecosystem management, climate change, flood control, adaptation and resilience, ecosystem services, build with nature, drought, sustainable environmental management, stakeholder involvement
15 April 2015