special issue on environmental effects of a green bioeconomy

If the bioeconomy does not develop in a sustainable way, the modifications of the rural landscape, in combination with expected climate change, will seriously affect our freshwater resources, and thereby society. This is one of many conclusions in BIOWATER’s special issue “Environmental effects of a green bioeconomy” (Ambio 49-11).

There are altogether 12 papers in the issue, and we have made a policy brief that summarises the main message of each paper. Our hope is that the brief will be read by policy makers, managers and other stakeholders, and serve as a teaser for further reading.

Policy brief on our special issue in Ambio 49(11).

Our main messages include:

If the development of a bioeconomy is not sustainable, there will be severe impacts on aquatic ecosystems that again will negatively affect societies and human welfare.

Long-term monitoring data of water quality, quantity and land use practices are crucial for discovering new trends in our Nordic water resources, as warnings of bioeconomy impacts.

Assuming that bioeconomy means increased production of biomass, it is unfortunate that systematic monitoring data of catchments dominated by different forestry practices are less available than data from agricultural and pristine catchments.

Better targeting of mitigation measures (location and dimension) offers clear optimisation opportunities for improving surface water quality. Improved measures can therefore assist in reducing negative environmental side effects of a growing bioeconomy, while at the same time reducing unnecessary occupation of fertile land useful for the production of food, fodder, fibre and fuel.

Feature photo by Lieke Vermaat.