GWP CEE took a pro-active approach to support the uptake of NSWRM, supporting demonstration projects, knowledge products, stakeholder engagement, policy level work, and partnership development.
As GWP CEE launched the regional Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) in 2013, it identified NSWRM among the measures to be supported for drought management in the Region. Within the IDMP, a specific project on Natural Small Water Retention Measures (NSWRM) was implemented by a group of experts from four CEE countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. The activities carried out included a compilation of case studies as well as the preparation of first Guidelines on Natural Small Water Retention Measures, published in 2015. During the course of the project, the experts identified the need to create a modern and effective tool for delivering knowledge on NSWRM. Consequently, GWP CEE collaborated with partners to develop a video lecture series on NSWRM.
An important milestone for advancing NSWRM came with the FramWat project, implemented over 2017 – 2020 with the support of INTERREG’s Central Europe Programme. The project coordinated by Warsaw University of Life Sciences aimed at strengthening the regional common framework for floods, droughts, and pollution mitigation by increasing the buffer capacity of the landscape through NSWRM.
The starting point for the project was that the majority of water management and flood protection measures lack innovation and follow more traditional approaches, including large scale grey infrastructure investment programs or capital projects.
Within the scope of the project, GWP CEE supported stakeholder engagement, policy dialogues, development of the synthesis guidelines of the project as well as the preparation of 6 action plans for NSWRM in each of the project pilot catchments. A series of national and regional policy dialogues was conducted in 6 countries – Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The project integrated the stakeholders most affected by droughts and floods (municipalities, forest districts, representatives of agriculture, nature protection agencies) with each other and experts, and facilitated creating ideas for in mitigating their effects. Problems and possible solutions were identified (Action plan), and tools (DSS planner) were provided to support stakeholders in the process of implementing activities (i.e. legal and technical guidelines).
In addition, national trainings were organized by project partners in 6 pilot river basins to familiarise stakeholders, particular target groups and associated partners with developed methods and to train them how to apply methodologies in river basins. Their purpose was to discuss and test the methodologies and train participants on how to use the developed GIS based assessment tool/s. National trainings were organized during the preparation of the concept plan and testing models. After creating the prototype of GIS Tool (FroGIS), training of its use was conducted for all partners. Additionally, the materials from the training course of GIS tool was developed into an e-learning system. In 2018 the training was organized for several WULS students and several function demonstrations at meetings with stakeholders in various countries.
The work currently continues in particular through the implementation of the project Optimal strategies to retain water and nutrients (OPTAIN) funded by Horizon 2020 over 2020 – 2025 and coordinated by Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ, Germany). OPTAIN proposes a social and scientific journey towards the increasing and better understanding of the multiple benefits of NSWRM. In this project GWP co-leads the work package on Communication and Dissemination, aiming to be a bridge between researchers and end users/farmers.