Wetland Functional Analysis Research Programme
European Union initiated and co-funded research is probably one of the best kept secrets - or were you aware of the FAEWE, PROTOWET and EVALUWET research programmes?
At the eve of launching the Sixth EU Framework Programme for Research and Technology Development, the partners of long-standing research consortia across Europe with exotic names like those mentioned above gathered for a European User Forum in Brussels on 25 September 2002 to confer with users of their research results, such as the UK Environment Agency, the German Federal Institute of Hydrology, the Romanian national company Apele Romane, the European Topic Centre for Inland Waters (of the European Environment Agency), the European Environmental Bureau, WWF, the Environment Directorate General of the European Commission and the Ramsar Bureau, about their needs.
The Wetland Functional Analysis research programme is coordinated by Edward Maltby at Royal Holloway Institute for Environmental Research in London with research partners in France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. It first focused on the functional analysis of European wetland ecosystems (FAEWA), then on the procedural operationalisation of techniques for the functional analysis (PROTOWET), and currently on valuation and assessment tools supporting wetland ecosystem legislation (EVALUWET). Find out more about this fascinating, albeit somewhat elusive, world through the entry gate provided at Evaluwet's home page: http://www1.rhbnc.ac.uk/rhier/evaluweb/index.shtml.
Wetlands perform hydrological, bio-geochemical and ecological functions. Based on these functions, values are ascribed to a wetland. For instance, floodwater retention is a function often performed by wetlands that may result in a measurable (i.e. valuable) reduction of inundation downstream. Which leads us to the Key Action "Sustainable management and quality of water" of the current 5th Framework Research Programme to which Evaluwet contributes. One of the key outputs and tools of the Evaluwet programme is a wetland evaluation decision-support system that should help the authorities to implement the obligations of the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) for the protection of surface and ground water resources and aquatic ecosystems.
The users pointed out that they are indeed thankful for objective knowledge tools, based on rigorous research, which provide an operational understanding of ecosystem processes, and that such knowledge needs to be presented in understandable language and in the form of consolidated procedures and techniques (which the Evaluwet programme is aiming to produce). Probably the most crucial point in the procedure to translate knowledge into know-how and action is to disseminate research results through cooperation with influential users. Researchers need to work with administrators responsible for the translation of knowledge into legislation and concrete action, and vice versa. This requires more regular and structured contacts. Personal efforts and investment of time is needed on all sides. So please, do visit Evaluwet's home page, learn more about what is going on in the field of functional analysis of European wetland ecosystems, and see what's in it for you?
-- reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar