Through multi-functional wetland restoration reduce pollution and create new values

Mobilising private landowners and communities in support of biodiversity and a healthier Baltic Sea – Through multi-functional wetland restoration reduce pollution and create new values

This project is the first Phase of a two-phase initiative with the aim to increase nutrient retention, increase the biodiversity and other values on private land dominated by agriculture through restoration of wetlands in river catchment areas. An already on-going, private initiative in southern Sweden (the Tullstorp Stream), involving around 70 landowners in river catchment area of 63 km2, will serve as the inspiration and model for establishing at least 4 other similar initiatives in the Baltic Sea region. Focus will be on finding such partners in Poland, Lithuania, Denmark and northern Germany – countries which all make a significant contribution to the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea and where the agriculture sector plays a very significant role. A 3-day workshop at the Tullstorp Stream, will serve as the springboard for starting up practical wetland restoration efforts in the four other areas. To ensure longer-term sustainability of the wetland restoration efforts, a new system – Verified Conservation Areas (VCA) – will be used for the monitoring of the efforts and their success. The 5 areas (including Tullstorp) will be used to inspire further replication in other areas of the Baltic Sea catchment area.

Situation and Background

For decades the environmental state of the Baltic Sea has been an issue of big concern for the citizens and governments of Baltic Sea States and for the European Union. As a result, many national and pan-Baltic governmental and NGO initiatives have been created.

There is progress now on many fronts: much less waste deposit, reduced toxic load, better controls and enforcement of fisheries, increasing populations of wild salmon, grey and harbour seals, white-tailed eagles and of many sea birds – whilst the cod still struggles. Thanks to improved treatment of wastewater, reduced emissions to air from combustion processes and curbed losses from diffuse sources (agriculture and forestry), the nutrient load of the Baltic Sea is also on decline. However, extensive phytoplankton blooms in summers are still annual phenomena with very little changes since mid 1990’s.

The agriculture sector is still a major contributor to the pollution of the Baltic Sea, and although successful efforts have been made to reduce the losses of nitrogen and phosphorous from farmland, a lot remains to be done to find longer-term, extensive solutions. Since almost all farmland around the Baltic is private, the engagement of private landowners is of critical importance for creating a healthier Baltic Sea.

Conservation and restoration of wetland is an essential part of the work to solve the Baltic Sea eutrophication challenge and many wetland restoration projects have started in the countries around the Baltic Sea since the 1990’s. So far, however, the targets set by governments have not been met when it comes to the restoration efforts and the eutrophication reduction impacts. A commonly cited reason has been the lack of finding a compromise with private owners regarding changing hydrology of the lands in their possession.

  • Apparently, the right incentives are still not in place to engage the farming community at a scale that matters. An analysis of the Swedish experiences in 2012, however, highlights that wetlands initiatives should promote multiple benefits and not focus narrowly on nutrient retention. Such benefits include flood and erosion control, water storage for irrigation, energy crop cultivation, recreational/tourism development, landscape enhancement, and biodiversity comeback.

Taking stock from a successful, private initiative in southern Sweden implementing multi-functional wetland restoration – the Tullstorp Stream – the Swiss-based organisation Earthmind aims at creating similar investments in other parts of the southern Baltic Sea region.

Project activities and effects

Project Goal: This project aims to communicate and multiply cutting-edge area-based conservation efforts by individual landowners and communities around the Baltic using a unique wetland restoration initiative at the Tullstorp Stream in Sweden as the starting point. The Verified Conservation Area approach will be used to ensure that standards of implementation are kept and that the transparency of conservation efforts is secured for a period of, at least, five years to enable the approach to be multiplied.

It is proposed to develop this project in two phases:


Objective 1: Identify, at leas 4 additional private landowner/community opportunities for wetland restoration in other parts of the Baltic Sea region outside Sweden, with particular emphasis on countries that play a significant role in the eutrophication of the sea (e.g. Poland, Lithuania, Denmark & Germany);

Objective 2: Share lessons learned and critical success factors from the Tullstorp Stream project, including the concept of Verified Conservation Areas (VCA);

Objective 3: For each interested area, identify different opportunities for starting similar projects, including how to obtain critical funding;



Objective 4: Assist with the development of a strategic plan for each area how to initiate and implement a similar initiative to the Tullstorp Stream in Sweden. As part of this plan identify how a performance-based system like the VCA could add value.

Objective 5: Organise different outreach initiatives to increase the knowledge of private wetland restoration initiatives, its potential for the environment, biodiversity restoration, the economic benefits for private landowners and communities.

Objective 6: Promote the replication of private wetland restoration and the VCA concept in selected Baltic Sea and European organisations, like the ELO (European Landowners Organisation).

Baltic Private Landowner Initiative Brochure




Private landowners, communities and the wider society in the southern Baltic Sea region


The Tullstorp Economic Association/”Tullstorpsån Ekonomisk Förening”

Project region

Southern Baltic Sea proper

Project duration start and end dates

2016-07-01 – 2017-04-30 (Phase 1)


Total projekt budget: € 34.232

funding baltfc: € 30.000

other donors: € 4.232