Research for better freshwater management

Last changed: 03 April 2023

Sweden has an abundance of freshwater. Exploitation of freshwater resources can degrade biodiversity and ecosystem services important to us. To counter these losses we try to restore habitats. But how successful are freshwater restoration attempts? What are the likely impacts of human induced climate change on our freshwater resources and how we manage them?

The FRESHREST project has ended, and this webpage is not fully updated. Download the final project report with results and conclusions at Naturvårdsverket (only in Swedish)


Freshwater landscapes – management and restoration with climate change

Our research project Freshwater landscapes – management and restoration with climate change (FRESHREST) aims to evaluate the current and future efficacy of restoration projects in Sweden with a focus on predicted climate change. FRESHREST should provide results which can be used practically for management. We will review known freshwater pressures and evaluate restoration projects. We will synthesize the results and combined with future climate predictions we can identify possible best management practices and current knowledge gaps.

"A future challenge for freshwater management involves not only restoration from local impacts, but planning for and mitigating against wide scale events such as climate change."   

Ecosystem services and freshwater biodiversity are threatened

Freshwater ecosystems provide essential services for humans such as clean water, drinking water, flood control, regulating eutrophication. Freshwater also contains a high biodiversity. However, the biodiversity and services provided by freshwater are challenged by humans. Manipulation and exploitation of freshwater is nothing new; we have ditched, drained, farmed and built on land, dammed, irrigated, stored, and redirected water to generate electricity, transport timber and more. This has caused a variety of local impacts, but more recently global climate change, eutrophication, acidification and toxin accumulation have provided a broader threat.

Restoration of freshwater faces future challenges

Restoration returns an ecosystem or habitat as close to its natural state as possible, or at least to a state which provides important ecosystem services. A variety of restoration activities in freshwater ecosystems occur in Sweden, and even globally the number of freshwater restoration projects has increased over the last decades. FRESHREST will try to find the best ways to restore freshwater biodiversity and services under an uncertain but altered future climate.

FRESHREST is funded by the Swedish Environment Agency.