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Knowledge-hungry water management authorities

Image: Martina Jeuthe

Published: 2020-08-13

FEATURE Researchers and environmental management authorities must collaborate closely to achieve a good marine environment and a sustainable use of our seas. EcoChange offers the administrators of our water the basis for making decisions on environmental monitoring and measures.

Text: Iréne Bohman

Knowledge is a perishable commodi­ty that must be continuously reviewed and used in the right context. It be­comes even more important as the cli­mate changes and we must re-evaluate assessments and weigh different interests in new ways. Within the sea and water management work, we address many challenges. A changed climate, syner­gistic effects of various environmental problems and the lack of data on the marine environment are at the forefront.

The problems are complicated, and the results are not obvious. Research must be synthesised and broken down on a fine geographical scale, as conditions differ greatly in distinct marine areas. When ecosystems differ year by year, the environmental problems and the effect of measures taken will differ too. We are constantly in need of future prospects, different scenarios, knowledge of re­sponse at ecosystem level, illumination of synergy effects, deeper knowledge of the effect of various measures, and of other unknowns we don’t yet have the knowledge to ask about today.

Difficult equation

In ecosystem-based management, we look for ways to preserve biodiversity and use natural resources in a sustain­able way. We want to use ecosystems for blue growth in the form of tourism, protein production and raw material extraction. Right now, we load the seas with fertilizers, plastics and environ­mental pollutants. We want to protect ever larger areas as much as possible from these envi­ronmental prob­lems. The pressure on the coasts is increasing, and the equation is in­creasingly difficult to solve.


Evaluating measures

We need cooper­ation at all levels. But perhaps more important is the need for knowl­edge. With more knowledge on how the ecosystem and individual species are affected by the changing climate and multiple impacts, we must find a system that takes into account the en­tire ecosystem and provides the best possible conditions for long-term man­agement and blue growth.

When environmental management needs more knowledge about com­plex and changing causal relationships, research programs like EcoChange are especially important. In our work with the Water and Marine Environ­ment Directives, we identify the most cost-effective measures to achieve good status in our marine environments. But in order to succeed, Swedish environ­mental marine monitoring must be de­veloped. We need to know the natural variations, be able to show trends and evaluate the measures taken.

Close contact is crucial

Connecting the research world with the authorities that have the tools and the power to make decisions is essen­tial. The results from EcoChange pro­vide the basis for evaluating which measures are most effective, and gives insight into which environmental monitoring is needed. In a changing world, we see the need for even closer contact and established forums where sea and water management can record their continued need for research ef­forts.

Iréne Bohman is the director for South Baltic Water Authority, Administrative Board, Kalmar County, and a reference group member for EcoChange.