Promotion of Biodiversity on Wet Arable Land


Wet arable land (WAL) offers special habitats for a range of animal and plant species that are reliant upon wet-dry habitats. Over the last 200 years, extensive drainage and water correction carried out to enable the cultivation of crops that are dependent upon sites of average wetness have led to a drastic decrease in WAL in Switzerland. For this reason, a large percentage of the wetland-specialised species which the Agricultural Environmental Objectives (AEOs) aim to encourage are currently endangered, or even threatened with extinction. In addition, agricultural drainage systems exert a complex influence on water, nutrient and pollutant flows, erosion, and greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as on agricultural production.

The Wet Arable Land (WAL) project aims to highlight solutions to a number of issues that pose competing demands: the promotion of biodiversity in arable-farming areas; agriculture-related nutrient and pollutant load in surface waters; greenhouse-gas emissions; and agricultural production. Decision-making criteria and potential strategies for the future handling of WAL are provided. The principles are elaborated in six Work Packages:

  1. Identification of WAL: Creation of a pan-Swiss map of potential WAL sites.
  2. Material Flows and Water Balance: A review of the literature on the effects of agricultural drainage on water, nutrient and pollutant flows, erosion, and greenhouse-gas emissions.
  3. Economic Efficiency: Illustrating the economic viability of crops commonly grown on WAL by means of full-cost accounting.
    Highlighting alternative agricultural-production options and yields on wet arable land.
  4. Biodiversity, Current State of Flora and Fauna: Illustrating the current state of flora and fauna on WAL (vascular plants, mosses, ground beetles, amphibians). Highlighting connectivity with water meadows and bogs of national significance as well the incidence of environmental target and indicator species.
  5. Promotion of Biodiversity on Wet Arable Lands: Pointing out biodiversity-promoting measures on biodiversity priority areas.
  6. Decision Aids: Provision of a decision-making tool for dealing with wet arable land.