Initiative “Place a Stone in a Stream”
Topic of the practice
Environment and biodiversity, Climate Change mitigation. Community involvement in water quality and aquatic biodiversity improvement, as well Climate Change effect mitigation through innovative low cost method.
Good Practice Information
The initiative was officially launched on 22 March 2010, on the International Water Day. Since then, the activity is ongoing with an aim to embrace the whole country.
In the elaboration process of the initiative, preliminary a “River stretch survey matrix” was elaborated and spread to potential actors. A leaflet "Advice for stone placement in a stream and creation of riffle areas" was elaborated and published. The given leaflet is intended as a tool in a step by step mood to clarify for the involved stakeholders (single people, farmers, activity groups, volunteers) how to use the river as a purification phenomenon as well biodiversity pool, adding, repairing or improving their morphological features and biological capacity.
Also an initial training was held and joint activities in rivers realized with volunteers. The monitoring of achieved results happened through the low cost „Biological Water Quality Measurement Scheme”, elaborated in Latvia and adapted for people with initial skills.
Bodies and stakeholders involved were local NGOs, landowners, citizen initiative groups, students, supported by UNESCO Latvian National Commission.
Legal framework: Activity is undertaken in conformity with legal frame set in Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia No475 (13.06.2006.) “On Treatment and dredging of surface water bodies and port aquatorium”.
Financial framework/resources for implementation: Method locally applied is low cost and depends on the distance to the available stones brought to the river, as well with technical expenditures for the terrestrial zone management. Training activities and production of informative leaflet was granted through the Baltic sea Region Programme Project BaltCICA.
Difficulties encountered: Sometimes degraded stream stretches belongs to private landowners and it is not always easy to achieve agreement with them. Landowners are afraid of negative publicity (like, why they haven’t maintained river stretch before themselves). Ignorance/misunderstanding of the coastal belt functioning and river-terrestrial zone interaction. Lack of finances and misunderstanding of ecological aspects sometimes give excuse for the local authorities, stating “leave as it is – Nature itself knows the best solution”.
Conditions for potential transfer: The activity is based on universal conformity to stream ecology and can be undertaken under the supervision of local ecologists and river managers, possibly changing activity priorities in accordance with local conditions (excess weed or wooden debris removal prior to stone instalment). Suitable for streams with depths about 1 meter.
Evidence of success
Locally undertaken, river and its biodiversity supporting activities according to specific interests of each involved group (Environmental NGOs, Fishermen Club, Water sport - canoeing groups, students, land owners) reaches visible results for each of them, in the same time adding input as well to all related segments like biodiversity, water quality, fish as game resource, riverside and general landscape, Climate Change mitigation.
In approximately 30 areas low cost improvement of stream habitats were undertaken.
New stone microhabitats were installed and biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates, as well fish stocks increased, proved by fish and aquatic invertebrate monitoring in R.Jaunupe.
In several places prior to stone installment excess weed and wooden debris removed, as well terrestrial river belt managed and local landscape improved.
Improved River stretches acts as natural water aeration units and purification systems. Theoretically locally, additionally biologically treated and oxygen enriched waters entering the Baltic Sea finally can diminish total phosphorus and nitrate load to the sea thus lessening adverse effects of foreseen Climate Change induced raise of temperature and following increase of eutrophication processes.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Nature Conservation Agency, North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
Annex completed on: 03-11-2011