Project 1: Understanding material transfers from watersheds and reducing downstream effects of agriculture and forestry on coastal aquatic ecosystems

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Project 1: Understanding material transfers from watersheds and reducing downstream effects of agriculture and forestry on coastal aquatic ecosystems
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Core problem: Current farming and forestry practices, and the construction of infrastructure to support them, result in important losses of soil, nutrients and chemical inputs from target sites. This not only undermines the potential for future production from terrestrial plants, it causes profound and often damaging changes to the quality of coastal receiving waters and fish habitats. The challenge is to improve productivity by: i) understanding the mechanisms that deliver materials from catchments to coasts, ii) identifying and promoting ‗environmentally friendly‘ farming and forestry practices based on reduced chemical inputs and retention of soil and excess nutrients in catchments, and iii) enshrining these gains in the development of policies and institutional arrangements that recognize and harmonize all activities supporting rural livelihoods throughout watersheds, including coastal areas. 

Main Activities

  • Review mechanisms for transfer of water, soil, nutrients, herbicides and pesticides from catchments to the sea, including groundwater, and the downstream effects of these inputs on coastal ecosystems.
  • Quantification of the transfer of water, nutrients and other materials into the coastal zone.
  • Evaluation of the biological, physical, economic and social effects of inputs from catchments on coastal ecosystems, and using GIS to identify geographical hotspots where coastal ecosystems are most   severely impacted or vulnerable.
  • Developing more environmentally friendly ways of maintaining or increasing productivity from forestry and agriculture that reduce the transfer of soil, nutrients and chemicals to the coast.
  • Testing the effects of reduced transfer of soils, nutrients and chemicals stemming from the research above, on the aquatic resources and habitats.
  • Evaluation of the impacts of existing policies and institutional arrangements on water management, land   use and zoning at local and national levels.
  • Preparation of suitable policy briefs, and identification of institutional frameworks, to rectify shortfalls in existing policies preventing the adoption of the beneficial results of research, including documentation of best policy practices‘ under different institutional conditions.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the uptake of proven technology, using a set of suitable indicators.
Milestones

Year 1:

  •                A model of material transfers from terrestrial environments to the coast, including climate change projections.
  •                Briefs describing the policy reforms and institutional changes needed to integrate best practice for all forms of production in catchments (Year 1 and 2).

Year 2:

  • Technology package of forestry and agriculture options to reduce transfer of materials or leaching of inputs from land-based activities to coasts.
  • Database of existing policies related to water use, land use and zoning.
  • Impact evaluation reports describing the effectiveness, constraints and limitations of existing policies and institutional arrangements in mitigating the downstream effects of agriculture and forestry.

Key outputs

  • A model of material transfers from terrestrial environments to the coast, including bio-physical and socio-economic components.
  • Technology package of new management options for forestry and agriculture to reduce transfer of materials or leaching of inputs from land-based activities to coasts, e.g. the ―safety net for mobile   nutrients developed by ICRAF.
  • Database of existing policies related to water use, land use and zoning.
  • Impact evaluation reports describing the effectiveness, constraints and limitations of existing policies and institutional arrangements in mitigating the downstream effects of agriculture and forestry.
  • Briefs describing the policy reforms and institutional changes needed to integrate best practice for all forms of production in catchments.

Expected impacts

  •             New ways of managing forests and farms to reduce loss of soil, nutrients and chemicals to the   coastal zone, leading to recovery of damaged fish habitats and improved productivity from coastal   fisheries.
  •             Improved awareness of policy makers and other users about downstream impacts of land-based activities on coastal ecosystems.
  •             Improved institutional arrangements for better regulation of material transfers from uplands to coasts   resulting in healthier coastal ecosystems capable of sustainably supporting a greater number of  people.

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