About environmental monitoring and assessment
The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has a mission that is unique among Sweden’s universities and colleges. SLU has been commissioned by the Swedish Government to pursue environmental monitoring and assessment. This means that the university, by means of analysis and forecasting, assesses the state of the environment in Sweden. The results are used for the follow-up of Sweden’s environmental objectives and adherence to its commitments within international conventions and directives in the environmental arena.
SLU possesses extensive knowledge of the current state of the environment. This is based both on the surveys, analyses and calculations that take place within the framework of environmental monitoring and assessment, as well as on the expertise and experience available within the university. In the development of various methods, models and estimates, there is often a close link to research. Results are disseminated to the public and society, and form a basis for decisions on issues of environmental policy.
There are many examples of how SLU’s environmental monitoring and assessment contributes to efforts made for the environment, both nationally and internationally. Analyses of nutrient leakage from the soil are used both in Sweden’s international reporting and for the follow-up on efforts to reduce eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Other analyses have served as the basis for developing new criteria within the Air Convention for how much acidic precipitation nature tolerates without risk of harm to ecosystems. SLU has also contributed to the establishment of new environmental quality criteria in lakes and watercourses.
In contrast with research, environmental monitoring and assessment is very much goaldirected and client-oriented. Decision-makers, who use the assessments and data, include the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Forest Agency, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Swedish Chemicals Agency, county administrations, water authorities, and local municipalities.
In order to meet society’s needs for knowledge and expertise, SLU has chosen to organise its ongoing analyses into programmes that relate to Sweden’s environmental objectives. A coordinator has been appointed to represent each programme. Furthermore, overall programme support is available for planning and follow-up, as well as special support for IT, GIS and communications. Preparatory consideration of strategic issues and priorities is performed in a coordinating body where all of SLU’s faculties are represented. Work on the programmes often entails cooperation between two or more departments and takes place in several faculties. SLU also collaborates with other institutions and authorities. “Biological diversity” and “Forest” are the two largest programmes.
The issues raised by environmental monitoring and assessment, alongside the results compiled and the tools developed, provide an excellent foundation for educational activities. These, primarily at the postgraduate level, also contribute to monitoring and assessment through the ongoing renewal of methods and approaches. The experts on the environment that graduate from SLU can be found in public administration, schools, commerce and industry, and universities. Through further education, such as in the field of water management and protection, these experts can continue to develop their own knowledge and expertise.