The “Baltic Sea Regional Network for Natural Water Retention Measures” is a new network which aims to connect different stakeholders involved in water resource management to discuss issues related to NWRM, for instance how these measures shall be integrated into the forthcoming River Basin Management Plans.
The Baltic Sea Regional Network consists of all EU countries sharing the Baltic Sea – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden – as well as Norway. Compared to other regions in Europe, this region is considered rich in terms of available water resources: the majority of countries in the region exploit less than 10% of available fresh water resources. So far the key concern of water managers has mainly been water quality, especially eutrophication. Nevertheless, sustainable management of water flows is equally important. The changing patterns of rain and snowfall and their effects on runoff are slowly raising the attention among stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region to climate change related effects on water flows.
Although NWRM as a term is relatively unknown for those who deal with river basin management planning, the concept is almost certainly familiar. For example, a number of “green engineering” measures have already been designed and implemented to manage water resources in the Baltic Sea region. Protection and maintenance of floodplains and wetlands, buffer strips in forest and agriculture lands, settling ponds, green roofs, sustainable urban drainage for rain and storm water management are all NWRM which have been implemented in this region. For the Nordic-Baltic region NWRM have a clear role in urban flood prevention.
Throughout the project, there have been ongoing discussions as to what is meant by “Natural”, what qualifies as an NWRM and their relevance in the water-rich Nordic Baltic region. These discussions are especially relevant given the plans to use the measures identified in this project in compensation schemes and in the separation of “grey” and “green” infrastructure. Due to the characteristics of NWRM we observe controversy and debates between water & nature managers and land use planers/developers on how to provide more space for waters and wetlands versus more intensive rural land use for forestry and agriculture.
We encourage all stakeholders to join the NWRM discussion forum to share their knowledge, views and opinions on theoretical as well as on practical implementation issues related to NWRM and join the network on this platform regularly. Please, feel free to pose challenging questions and we will jointly seek how to answer them.