Evidence-based stream restoration in Bergslagen Model Forest

February 09, 2015 | Written BY : admin_test

The Bergslagen region in Sweden has a very long history of industrial use of minerals, forests and water. Streams and rivers in the Bergslagen region have more dams and hydropower plants than other regions in Sweden, and the history of forest management for industrial wood is long. This has impacted streams and riparian forests and reduced the quality of brown trout habitat. Brown trout is a regionally important species for both sport fishing and rural development. It is also the key host for larvae of the endangered fresh water pearl mussel and conservation of the trout is critical to the survival of the mussel.

Given limited resources, it is crucial to develop cost- and conservation-efficient measures for active stream restoration. In addition to cross-sectorial collaboration, this requires evidence-based knowledge about what defines good brown trout habitat in the region. Using the River Hedströmmen as a laboratory, the Bergslagen Model Forest used social-ecological concepts and a landscape approach to implement a project focused on the protection, management and restoration of streams in the catchment area. WWF-Sweden, the energy company Mälarenergi, the provincial government in Västmanland County and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ campus in Bergslagen were all involved in the pilot project.

A combination of field validation, electrofishing and geographical information system (GIS) applications were used to identify the minimum length (270m) of stream sections required to host self-reproducing brown trout populations. Monitoring demonstrated that the stream restoration activities, including increasing the flow of water and adding gravel for brown trout spawning, increased brown trout recruitment rapidly.

Production of evidence-based knowledge, demonstration of restoration management and collaborative stakeholder learning has improved the understanding of the need for spatial planning of brown trout habitat restoration activities. This approach to identification of functional habitat size and quality is applicable to entire river catchments and can be applied to other focal species and their habitats.

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