Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water


28/01/2020 - 19/04/2022

Integration of ecological status and environmental services for the design and prioritization of management measures

Most freshwater ecosystem planning and management strategies struggle to identify the main watershed pressures that determine the ecological status of water bodies. The study and interpretation of these cause-effect relationships between pressures and ecological status is fundamental to propose appropriate management strategies and justify the investments associated with measures proposed within the plan of measures (PoM) of the hydrographic basin management plans ( RBMP), as contemplated by the Water Framework Directive (DMA). Generally these measures only consider the benefits of improving the ecological state, but not the effects on environmental services and, therefore, on the resulting social and economic benefits.

Given this context, the EESAM proposes to develop a decision support system (SAD) to be applied to the internal basins of Catalonia, which allows determining, based on the pressures existing in the system, the effects on the ecological state and environmental services. This SAD will allow the identification and prioritization of management measures that provide a better benefit-cost ratio, taking into account both ecological benefits (ecological status) and social and economic benefits (environmental services).

The SAD will be based on free programs of geographic information systems (QGIS) and calculation (R), and will present a communication interface with the user for easy visualization and interaction. Within the SAD, the modeling part of biophysical processes will be developed with the SWAT+ program, which will be used to predict changes in hydrology, biogeochemical processes and erosion/sediment transport. On the other hand, the incorporation of information related to the multiple stresses of the ecological state and the socioeconomic model will be carried out using QGIS and R.

Additionally, when advising on the different management measures, the SAD will also take into account the degree of social acceptance by the different groups of actors considered in the process. This social assessment will be carried out through the review of the participatory processes of the ACA, which will make it possible to know the opinion of the different agents on the measures of the PoM, as well as the carrying out of a survey of the local population.