Aveiro River (c) Ana Lillebo, University of Aveiro
Find out more about Case Study Five:
- Case Study Report
- Case Study Poster
- Executive Summary
- Case Study Report Annexes
- Case Study data and information on the AQUACROSS Information Portal

Biodiversity challenge: In 2018/2019, two management interventions will be implemented in the case study area that will have negative unintended impacts on biodiversity: 1) a dredging programme to enable hydrodynamic equilibrium and navigability in Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon, and 2) the extension of a floodbank to disable surface saltwater intrusion into Baixo Vouga Lagunar agricultural area. The goal of this study is to apply adaptive management and address these foreseen but unintended management challenges in a Natura 2000 freshwater-marine continuum territory, in the context of EU water-related directives and EU Nature Directives.

Context: The geographic location of the case study combined with its natural capital enables a variety of economic, cultural and recreational activities. The region is subject to a complex variety of land and water uses and potential conflicts, and a number of anthropogenic pressures that impact the hydro-morphological conditions of the lagoon and the adjacent freshwater section of the Vouga River, the Baixo Vouga Lagunar. The region is also vulnerable to ocean storm surges and coastal erosion, and to torrential rain and flood events, meaning that it often requires human intervention for protection or to enable economic activities.

What was done?: We identify the overarching policy plans, programmes, and objectives relevant to managing biodiversity within the case study, as well as the key governance institutions. Stakeholders were engaged at different steps, contributing data, information, and perceptions to define the baseline and the management scenarios that were attained through: i) model-based scenarios built on causal links and habitat risk assessments; ii) stakeholders’ perceptions regarding the present status and future trends; and iii) modelling the spatial multicriteria analysis results that were attained by stakeholder’s valuation of ecosystem services.

Results: Two spatial scales, the entire Natura 2000 site and the Baixo Vouga Lagunar, were considered. The ecosystem-based management plan was co-created with input from local stakeholders and policy-makers. The plan proposes to restore saltmarshes and seagrasses, harmonise monitoring across EU Directives, and incorporate stakeholders and integrate territorial management instruments to mitigate the expected, unintended impacts of the floodbank and dredging in the Ria de Aveiro Natura 2000 site.

Lessons learned for managing biodiversity: The implementation of the proposed mitigation measures should be framed in the Sectoral Plan for Natura 2000 Network, which is the territorial management tool for the implementation of the national policy for the conservation of biological diversity; and should consider climate change projections and the National Strategic Plan for Climate Change adaptation. For the successful implementation of the identified water and nature policies at Ria de Aveiro Natura 2000 site, any actions need to ensure the involvement of users and landowners.

Applicability of results: The EBM plan is foreseen to support the development of the Vouga estuary management plan, as well as actions for a more comprehensive understanding of the social-economic implications of ecosystem services provided by these aquatic habitats.

Lead partner organisation: The University of Aveiro leads research on Case Study 5

The Regional Hydrographic Administration for Portugal Centre Region, a department of the Portugal Environment Agency, is the cooperating organisation for AQUACROSS Case Study Five: Improving integrated management of Natura 2000 sites in the Vouga River, from catchment to coast, Portugal. The Portugal Environment Agency is a public institute under the aegis of the Portuguese Ministry of the Environment, Territory Management and Energy. It is responsible for proposing, developing, and monitoring public policies related to the environment and sustainable development, in close cooperation with other sectoral policies and public and private entities. The Regional Hydrographic Administration for Portugal Central Region focuses on oceans, seas, coastal areas, lakes, and rivers in the central administrative district of Portugal.

Cooperating partner: Case Study 5 and the Portugal Environment Agency are represented on the SPBTT by Celina Carvalho.