Catchment officers secure local engagement in Sweden


Catchment officers secure local engagement in Sweden

By Emma Svensson, Samordnare, EU-programenheten, Jordbruksverket

A government mandate in 2018 to the Swedish Authority for Water and Marine Management was the start of the project LEVA (Local engagement for water). In the project, local catchments officers are financed in 20 pilot areas in Sweden to support local actions and measurements against eutrophication. Catchment officers is a way to improve and speed up the implementation and amount of voluntary measures being made in the agricultural landscape. The project is led by the Swedish Authority for Water and Marine Management together with the Swedish Board of Agriculture, The County administrative boards, the Water district authorities, and the Federation of Swedish farmers as active partners.

Performing measures in the landscape initiated by landowners have been done for at least 30 years. During the last 20 years the project “Focus on Nutrients” led by the Swedish Board of Agriculture and financed by the Rural development Programme have been an important help for advising at individual farms. The catchment officers in LEVA began working during the spring of 2019. Individual projects with coordinators, similar to the catchment officers, for measurements have been around for at least 30 years, but with LEVA the function of a catchment officer is up-scaled and evaluated. Sweden hopes that this will improve the numbers of measures being done. Catchment officers will also help with the administrative burden that often follows landowners when, and if, they want to implement measures on their land. During 2020, after a start-up phase, measures are now being implemented in the landscape in most of the 20 pilot areas. During 2020 Sweden have also seen catchment officers being employed in other areas, financed by other state funds.

The catchment officers’ most important role in Sweden is to be the contact person for the landowners and also the link between the landowners, the municipality, the County and different funding agencies, as well as a link to consultancies that construct the actual measure or restore the landscape function(s). The catchment officers have an important role in sharing information and knowledge as well as to practically support the land owners.

Construction of a wetland for P retention in one of the LEVA projects in west Sweden. Törlans avrinningsområde. Foto: Harald Lagerstedt

The Swedish National Program LEVA

Some of the tasks for catchment officers today

Constructed wetlands

Two stage ditches

Filter ditches

Woodchips filtration ditches     

Beveling ditches

Structure liming

Small wetlands

Phosphorus ponds

Soil mapping    

Lime/biochar filtration ditches

Ecological functional zones

Protection zones

Adapted groundwater surface

Based on Investment plans and results in Municipality of Västervik