Water Management in Baltic Forests
WAMBAF
 
PROGRAMME 2014-2020
priority
2 Natural resources
objective
2.1 Clear waters

WAMBAF

The project WAMBAF provided tools for authorities and planners, forest enterprises, hunters and forest owners to better manage drainage systems, riparian forests and beaver activity in forests, and in doing so to keep clean waters flowing from forests to the Baltic Sea.
The challenge

Harmful dispatch from forests

Forests cover 48% of the Baltic Sea catchment and are accountable for about 19% of the total nitrogen and 16% of the phosphorus load to the sea, according to Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM). Forest streams and rivers take nutrients and hazardous substances, such as methyl mercury, directly to the regional and coastal waters. In this way, they add to the eutrophication and pollution of the Baltic Sea water and decrease of biodiversity.

Missing coordination across the region

The main drivers of change in the inflow of nutrients and hazardous substances is better maintenance of forest drainage systems, management of riparian forests, and distribution of beaver dams. To date, however, authorities responsible for the forestry in the countries around the Baltic Sea have applied various, often barely cost-effective water protection practices without coordinating the efforts with the neighbouring countries. With better knowledge and efficient tools in place, the authorities, as well as forest enterprises, forest owners and hunters could more effectively plan operations in riparian forests, decide which drainage systems to keep and assess which beaver dams have the best capacity to decrease the amounts of nutrients and hazardous substances in waters.

Budgets

WAMBAF
in numbers
  • 2.93
    Million
    Total
  • 2.28
    Million
    Erdf
  • 0.00
    Million
    Eni + Russia
  • 0.00
    Million
    Norway

Achievements

New tools for managing forests

National forest and environment ministries and agencies in Lithuania and Sweden, the state-owned forest enterprise that manages one-third of Finland’s land area, and forest institutes in these countries as well as in Latvia and Poland pooled their expertise and experience in the project WAMBAF in order to jointly develop a mobile app tool for maintaining forest drainage systems, a planning tool for riparian forest buffers, and a decision support tool for beaver dams.

Over 620 representatives from private and state-owned forest enterprises, forest owners, hunters, and authorities attended training courses to test them directly in the forest and provide feedback on their usability. Over two-thirds of the participants said that these tools would be useful to them in their daily forestry work. These tools can help users balance the various forest management goals, such as producing timber while safeguarding water quality.

Demonstration areas

The project set up physical demonstration areas where private and state-owned forest enterprises, forest owners and authorities witnessed good practices in forest water management. These eleven demonstration areas were located in Vengasoja, Finland; Jaunkalsnava, Latvia; Plateliai and Kretinga, Lithuania; Sokolak, Strazalowo (two areas) and Żednia, Poland; and Kungsberget, Tobo, Torringen, and the Helgeå watershed, Sweden.

The area in Sokolak, Poland, for example, demonstrated that it is possible to retain drainage water from agricultural areas in mid-forest ponds and assessed the effects of this solution on trees and groundwater quality around the reservoir.

The biggest forest enterprise in Sweden, Sveaskog, reached out to the Finnish state-owned forest enterprise Metsähallitus to arrange a visit to the demo area in Vengasoja to learn more about the results developed in WAMBAF.

Cleaner waters in forests

With EUR 2.28 million invested by the European Union, the Interreg project WAMBAF not only filled a knowledge gap of water management in forests by creating easy-to-use tools for authorities, planners, forest owners, forest managers and hunters, it introduced the tools to these intended users in 19 training courses around the Baltic Sea. Now the follow-up project WAMBAF Tool Box, puts these tools into practice by training more users to use them.

On the demo areas that were already established, Latvian forest managers, machine operators and contractors, and Estonian forest administrators, managers and operators are learning how to use the ditch management application. Lithuanian forest managers and hunters as well as relevant stakeholders from various countries in the region are training how to use the beaver tool, whereas Polish state forest managers are practising the blue targeting tool.

Outputs

Ditch management tool

The ditch management tool is a mobile application developed to support taking inventory and management of ditches in forests. The app’s intended users are forest owners, machine operators and entrepreneurs, and persons not educated in planning drainage works. It is especially aimed toward those who do not use GIS software in their everyday work. The user, after loading the files containing topographic information based on LiDAR data or other measurements, acquires finished hydrological analysis output, which will be transferred directly to the mobile application. The application can help the user to find ditches in the field and also edit them outright on their device. The application is multilingual and available for download for Android and iOS from Google Play and App Store.

Blue targeting tool

The blue targeting tool is a forestry planning tool that helps forest owners and managers design a riparian forest buffer. The tool can be used to propose the right measure, at the right place, to the right extent, thereby protecting water quality and biodiversity. While walking along a stream, users of the tool should look at the stream and at the surrounding forest. They should notice things like moisture of the ground, amount of dead wood, tree species, and amount of stones in the stream. They answer a number of questions in the provided form, which gives credits. The credits sum up to a total credit sum, which then provides a recommendation for how the forest should be managed in order to safeguard the values of the stream and the water quality. This tool is available in English, Finnish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian.

Beaver tool

The impacts of beavers and corresponding responses are complex, creating a need for standardised and objective assessment of the potentially beneficial or detrimental effects of beavers in the forest. The beaver tool is a tool that supports decisions and for making assessments. It is designed for forest owners – private, enterprise, state or municipal – and forest managers – enterprise or government. It consists of a protocol where the forest owner or manager answers a number of questions concerning the beaver dam and its surroundings. The tool asks, for example, how the dam affects nearby forests, biodiversity, recreational values, cultural remains and water. As a decision support tool, it can be used to recommend to remove or keep a beaver dam, based on information on water quality, nature and economic values that are either gained or lost by removing or keeping the dam. As an assessment tool, it helps to identify and quantify water quality as well as nature and economic values of beaver systems.

Project Stories

Partners

Swedish Forest Agency

  • Town
    Borås
  • Region
    Västra Götalands län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
653,650.60
57.721083912.9407407

Institute Natural Resources Finland (Luke)

  • Town
    Joensuu
  • Region
    Pohjois-Karjala
  • Country
    Finland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
560,000.05
62.600625729.7584591

Metsähallitus

  • Town
    Vantaa
  • Region
    Päijät-Häme
  • Country
    Finland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
125,000.00
60.309187125.0364526

Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava

  • Town
    Salaspils
  • Region
    Pierīga
  • Country
    Latvia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
180,000.00
56.8808283524.379775757251913

Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (LRCAF)

  • Town
    Kėdainiai dirstrict
  • Region
    Kauno apskritis
  • Country
    Lithuania
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
240,000.00
55.288732223.9758359

Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania

  • Town
    Vilnius
  • Region
    Vilniaus apskritis
  • Country
    Lithuania
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
25,000.00
54.687045825.2829111

Forest Research Institute (IBL)

  • Town
    Sękocin
  • Region
    Warszawski zachodni
  • Country
    Poland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
411,024.80
52.359722221.1588889

the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden

  • Town
    Uppsala
  • Region
    Uppsala län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
199,939.55
59.858612617.6387436

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

  • Town
    Uppsala
  • Region
    Uppsala län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
536,350.00
59.858612617.6387436