The Vecht is invaluable, or isn’t it …?

Could Ecosystem Services help to generate of additional resources for implementing water management measures?

The transboundary (Dutch-German) ‘Vecht Vision’ describes in headlines what is needed to turn the Vecht again into a beautiful, safe river with clean water, healthy flora and fauna and as well as providing a prosperous economic environment. What and how to do this is not at all fixed yet. Ample of room is provided for new ideas and initiatives (www.devecht.eu). One of those new ideas and initiatives is the testing of an innovative approach for revealing what people value from their Vecht valley and how they value.

In science, this approach is captured by a specific concept, namely the Ecosystem Services Concept. It emphasizes that:

  • The Vecht valley is framed as an ‘ecosystem’;
  • This ecosystem includes characteristics and processes which can be used by society and thus provide services to society;
  • The changes of the ecosystem (such as changed land use) generate benefits and costs;
  • The scheme for balancing costs and benefits is called a ‘payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme’.

Testing this concept in local, transboundary water management, we wanted to understand what people who live in the Vecht valley regard as important for recreation or for earning money in that valley and thus to reveal how they ‘value the valley’ and, how they value more specifically, a currently planned floodplain restoration measure between Laar and Hardenberg.

The diagram here shows the costs and benefits, as well as their interactions, and requirements to come true.

We have developed one example for a payment scheme for the transboundary Vecht Valley, roughly from Emlicheim to Hardenberg. Currently (in 2014) we check what is necessary to implement such a payment scheme. First indications are that, in the context of public water management this is rather difficult – for benefits are uncertain, and are difficult to link a single measure but more a result of acombination of activities.

Final Report Phase 2 (Jan - Dec 2013)

The Final Report of the second phase (2013) can be found below:

Final Report (Version 31st August 2014)
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A poster was presented at the 3rd Vecht Symposium (September 2013, Zwolle, The Netherlands). You can find it below:
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VechtPes Poster
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Results of the first phase can be found here:
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Vechte Phase 1 Finalreport
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The project has been executed by a Dutch – German research team (Dr. Ilke Borowski-Maaser (Interessen Im Fluss, Hannover, Germany); Suzanne van der Meulen, Karen Molenaar und Jos Brils (Deltares, The Netherlands); Dr. Uta Sauer und Dr. Jörg Cortekar (Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany)). This is done in close cooperation with the local parties, such as Waterschap Velt en Vecht and Gemeente Hardenberg on the Dutch side, and  Landkreis Grafschaft Bentheim, Samtgemeinde Emlicheim, the Vechteverband and the Niedersächsische Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Klimaschutz at the German side.

The project has been supported by the Dutch Ministerie voor Infrastructuur en Milieu and the German Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, as part of their activities in the context of the Transboundary Water Convention – (UNECE). Further financial support was provided in 2013 by the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Klimaschutz.

For more information about this research project you are welcome to contact Ilke Borowski-Maaser (bm@interessen-im-fluss.de) for the German side and Jos Brils (jos.brils@deltares.nl) for the Dutch side.