New centre to oversee landscape management

Illustrative photo: Chris Northwood, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

A new Land and Water Management Centre has just been established by experts at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague. Its aim is to search for measures that would adapt the country’s landscape to the ongoing climate changes, including extended periods of drought and as well as increasingly frequent flooding.

Illustrative photo: Chris Northwood,  Flickr,  CC BY-SA 2.0
I spoke to Martin Hanel from the University’s Faculty of Environmental Sciences, who is one of the members of the team, and I first asked him to outline the reasons behind establishing the centre:

“The Centre brings together experts from various established research teams covering hydrology, water management or landscape architecture. The main motivation to establish this centre right now was to provide design for landscape that would be adapted for climate conditions and demographic conditions in years 2030 or 2050.

“The problem is that the adaptation measures that are designed at the moment now are often treated separately. We can for instance design one wetland or one reservoir or change land use but the effect of these measures and their monitoring is done separately. So there is no complex solution of larger regions or wider areas.”

So if I understand it correctly, you try to interconnect the different experts who are dealing with climate change so that they join forces and cooperate together.

“Yes, exactly, the measures often have different purposes. We can for instance try to secure drinking water, improve biodiversity or the esthetical value of landscape. So all these purposes have to be treated together and we have to find some balance between them.”

You are working on a concept of a so-called Smart Landscape. What exactly does that mean?

“It means exactly the multi-objective design of a landscape, where we can store the excess water and use it later in a clever way that can provide enough water for agriculture but at the same time also for water supply.”

What will be your first steps?

Illustative photo: Magdalena Kašubová
“We have designed three pilot studies, focused on urban landscape, agricultural and forest landscape. Currently we have financing for the first two projects. We want to assess the effects of green infrastructure and blue infrastructure on urban climate – this will be done on the campus of the Czech University of Life Sciences.”

“The second pilot project will be carried out at our farm in Lány, where we would like to improve the way in which the farm is treated to optimize the water regime and water quality.”

And finally, how many experts are there in the centre and will you cooperate with experts from outside the university?

“The direct participation now is only from the University. There is something like ten expert teams, which means around 50 people in total. But we have already established cooperation with institutes like T.G. Masaryk Water Research Institute, the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute and many others.”