Policy recommendations coming from the ...

URL: http://opendata.waterjpi.eu/dataset/713b6e11-f7f2-48a6-bad5-22b87ba69983/resource/07d9f9f5-f93e-47b4-b2fc-e9f647209143/download/clearance_brussels-declaration_september-18.pdf

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is under review and a fitness check is being organised by the European Commission. The check follows the criteria of 1) effectiveness, 2) effi ciency, 3) relevance, 4) coherence and 5) EU added value. The policy recommendations emerge from the CLEARANCE research project, the work of its partners as well as policy workshop in Brussels, 12.9.2019. The recommendations follow these criteria with a specific focus on the relation of nutrients from agriculture and their retention in wetland buffer zones along rivers. Throughout, the recommendations also stress the key importance of wetland restoration, and specifically rewetted peatlands, for climate mitigation and adaption. The river basin management plans carried out for the WFD need clear nutrient reduction targets along with measures to reduce the pressure from agriculture on water quality. In accordance with the polluter pays principle of the WFD, good agricultural practices (including fertilisation limits) have to be defined and effectively enforced in implementation. For the further reduction of the remaining nutrient loads from agriculture, there are two interlinked options: agro-ecology and wetland restoration. Wetlands serve as a sink for nitrogen, phosphorus and greenhouse gases, if water levels and flow conditions are (semi)natural. Restored riparian wetlands on formerly drained organic soils allow greenhouse gas emission reductions of 10 – 35 t CO2 equiv. per hectare/year, and riparian wetlands can remove most of the nitrogen and phosphorus load from agriculture. Restored wetlands improve water cycling and slow down the outflow to lower parts of the catchment, thereby decreasing the risks of droughts and floods. Functioning wetlands provide habitats for specially adapted flora and fauna (biodiversity value) and can be connected to innovative types of wet agriculture. Agricultural harvest of wetland biomass supports the nitrogen and phosphorus removal function, and recovers these resources as building material, for energy production, fodder or composting. Thus, wetland restoration and wet agriculture are key for achieving the goals of a circular and carbon-neutral economy.

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