European Union invests strongly in climate adaption project in province of Antwerp

Date: 5 December 2017

Introduction: Research at the University of Antwerp formed the scientific base for a large project that prepares Flanders for changing rainfall patterns, resulting from climate change.

Through the Interreg 2 Seas Programme the EU invests 1.3 M euro in climate adaptation in the province of Antwerp. The financed project, PROWATER (‘Protecting and restoring raw water sources through actions at the landscape scale’), aims to strengthen the resilience against drought and extreme rainfall through ‘ecosystem-based-adaptation’. In other words: nature (i.e. rainwater) will help us to efficiently combat water scarcity and flooding, at the same time strenghtening water quality. Parallel project will be initiated in the UK and the Netherlands.

The scientific concept for the project is based on the work of Jan Staes, Katrien Van der Biest and Patrick Meire, all members of the Global Change Ecology Centre (research group Ecosystem Management). Jan: “With this project, we can really prepare Flanders for the more capricious rainfall pattern that will face us in the future. In contrast to common thinking, water is a rather scarce resource in Flanders. Each person in Flanders and Brussels only disposes of about 1700 cubic meters of drinking water, which is quite a small quantity compared to most other European countries.”

By identifying, quantifying and demonstrating the added benefits (ecosystem services) of thee cosystem based adaptaton, the full range of advantages associated to the restoration measures will be known, which will strongly improve public support.

Heath vegetation restoration, a potential measure to recharge groundwater (Photo: Rasbak).