Climate change, agriculture and wetlands in Eastern Europe: Vulnerability, adaptation and policy

  • Hartig E
  • Grozev O
  • Rosenzweig C
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Abstract

Naturally-occurring wetlands perform such functions as flood control, pollution filtration, nutrient recycling, sediment accretion, groundwater recharge and water supply, erosion control, and plant and wildlife preservation. A large concentration of wetlands is located in Eastern Europe. A significant amount of Eastern European wetlands has been converted to agricultural use in the past, and remaining wetlands are subject to agricultural drainage. Drained wetlands are used as prime agriculture lands for a variety of food crops. Other agricultural uses of wetlands range from growing Phragmites australis (common reed) for thatch and livestock feed, to collecting peat for beating and cooking fuel. Altered hydrologic regimes due to global climate change could further exacerbate encroachment of agricultural land use into wetlands. The vulnerability and adaptation studies of the U.S. Country Studies Program are used to analyze where climate change impacts to agriculture may likewise impact wetland areas. Scenarios indicate higher temperatures and greater evapotranspiration altering the hydrologic regime such that freshwater wetlands are potentially vulnerable in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Russia, and that coastal wetlands are at risk in Estonia. Runoff is identified as a key hydrological parameter affecting wetland function. Since wetland losses may increase as a result of climate-change-induced impacts to agriculture, precautionary management options are reviewed, such as establishing buffer areas, promoting sustainable uses of wetlands, and restoration of farmed or mined wetland areas. These options may reduce the extent of negative agricultural impacts on wetlands due to global climate change.

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Authors

  • E.K.a Hartig

  • O.b Grozev

  • C.c Rosenzweig

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