The floods of 2021 and the drought of 2022 have shown that climate change will also have an increasing impact in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine through extreme weather phenomena: in some years there will be too much water, in other years too little. Both extremes can be mitigated by strengthening the water storage capacity of the landscape, but land use has so far taken little account of this new challenge.
The HORIZON PLUS Change project (Planning Land Use Strategies for meeting climate, biodiversity and social goals in a Changing world) will address this issue: the project aims to create greater awareness of how decisions on how we use and manage land affect climate, people and the environment. Citizens and businesses, but also policymakers, are to be given recommendations for action on how land use can be made more sustainable and, above all, climate-resilient in a changing world.
The project with a duration of 4 years started on 1.6.2023 under the leadership of the Czech research institute Czech Globe. 23 partners from research and practice from the EU, Great Britain and Switzerland are involved in the project. The Three-Countries Park participates as a practice partner through the EMR.
The kick-off event took place in Prague from 12-14 June and focused on the project's workflow and the integration of science and practice. About 40 participants presented different land use planning projects in the different regions of Europe and discussed how they can be supported by instruments from research. Conversely, research will derive recommendations for EU policy from the experiences in the regions.
In addition to a master plan for Amsterdam, a climate farmer project in Switzerland and other application areas, the Three-Countries Park practice case will deal with a cross-border action plan for a climate-resilient landscape.
The focus will be on the green corridor between the Eifel/Ardennes and the Hoge Kempen in the heart of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine and on "nature based solutions" for climate adaptation. These contribute significantly to mitigating the impacts of climate change by strengthening and restoring natural processes (such as the small water cycle) in the landscape. They are highlighted as an important tool in the EU Climate Adaptation Strategy. Examples of nature-based solutions that can increase water retention in the landscape while improving biodiversity and landscape quality include:
The aim is to work together with local actors from the field to document water retention measures that have already been implemented or are planned in the sense of nature-based solutions in a map, but also to identify the need for action in transboundary river basins (such as the Geul). Steps towards implementation are also to be initiated by the project.
At the end of the project, an integrated solution for climate adaptation, biodiversity and quality of life of the citizens should be elaborated and show how the green heart of the Euregio can be made climate resilient and sustainable for future generations.