- Inland navigation infrastructures and biodiversity: impacts and opportunities for waterwayscape management
Inland navigation infrastructures and biodiversity: impacts and opportunities for waterwayscape management
Facing global change, inland navigation transport is considered as one of the most promising, sustainable transport alternative to help operate the European ecological transition and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. However, European waterways have a dilemma. On one hand, they have to develop their infrastructures to promote green transport alternatives. On the other hand, eco-morphological modifications of rivers risk affecting biodiversity status and resilience.
With the stated objective to sustainable management of waterways, the question therefore remains; what are the impacts of inland navigation infrastructures on biodiversity, and how to mitigate them?
Cues currently available to solve this question rely on scattered case studies whose results are highly context- and scale-dependent. In addition, our knowledge on which processes drive navigation-biodiversity relationships is still limited and requires research. To address this question, we need an evidence-based synthesis that covers various contexts and allows upscaling local-scale conclusions.
We thus propose a synthesis and analysis project to study the relationships between navigation activity, the associated Inland Navigation Infrastructures (INIs), and biodiversity across contexts and scales.
Our specific aims are: (i) To quantify the effects of INIs on taxonomic and functional biodiversity and better understand the INIs-biodiversity relationships; (ii) To evaluate the context-dependency of the INIs-biodiversity relationships by assessing the role of the landscape, riparian zone, and territories in these relationships; (iii) To assess the scale-dependency of these relationships across different territorial divisions that can make sense to practical and ecological purposes in the search for compromises in waterwayscape management.
We adopt two complementary levels of analysis with three different taxonomic groups (fish, invertebrates, and riparian/floodplain vegetation). (i) At the European level, based on large-scale European databases and pattern-oriented approach, we assess the general effects on biodiversity of main gradients of navigation use intensity, in interaction with land-cover types (e.g. agricultural vs. urban vs. floodplain forest) and territorial characteristics (e.g. watershed management vs. protected areas). (ii) At the transnational level, based on 30+ river datasets with fine spatial-temporal biodiversity data, and extensive context and INIs information, we investigate the mechanisms underlying INIs-biodiversity relationships, and their context-dependency.
This work will provide synthetic knowledge and guidelines on how to prioritize management and restoration actions depending on the context and on which scales to conceive policies to ensure their consistency across territories. We will further highlight opportunities for INIs to contribute to the landscape multi-functionality.