University of Oulu

Vermaat, J. E., Skarbøvik, E., Kronvang, B., Juutinen, A., Hellsten, S., Kyllmar, K., Lyche Solheim, A., & Kløve, B. (2023). Projecting the impacts of the bioeconomy on Nordic land use and freshwater quality and quantity – An overview. In CATENA (Vol. 228, p. 107054). Elsevier BV.

Projecting the impacts of the bioeconomy on Nordic land use and freshwater quality and quantity – an overview

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Author: Vermaat, Jan E.1; Skarbøvik, Eva2; Kronvang, Brian3;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (MINA-NMBU), P.O. Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway
2Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Division of Environment and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 115, 1431 Ås, Norway
3Department of Ecoscience, Aarhus University, C.F. Møllers Alle 3, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark
4Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), University of Oulu, P.O. Box 413, 90014 Oulu, Finland
5Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), University of Oulu, P.O. Box 413, 90014 Oulu, Finland
6Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), P.O. Box 7014, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden
7Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Økernveien 94, NO-0579 Oslo, Norway
8Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-01


This paper synthesizes a five-year project (BIOWATER) that assessed the effects of a developing bioeconomy on Nordic freshwaters. We used a catchment perspective and combined several approaches: comparative analyses of long-term data sets from well-monitored catchments (agricultural, with forestry, and near pristine) across Fennoscandia, catchment biogeochemical modelling and ecosystem services assessment for integration. Various mitigation measures were also studied. Benchmark Shared Socio-economic Pathways were downscaled and articulated in dialogue with national stakeholder representatives leading to five Nordic Bioeconomy Pathways (NBPs) describing plausible but different trajectories of societal development towards 2050.These were then used for catchment modelling and ecosystem service assessment. Key findings from the work synthesized here are: (a) The monitoring results from 69 catchments demonstrate that agricultural lands exported an order of magnitude more nutrients than natural catchments (medians 44 vs 4 kg P km−2 y-1 and 1450 vs 139 kg N km−2 y-1) whilst forests were intermediate (7 kg P km−2 y-1 and 200 kg N km−2 y-1). (b) Our contrasting scenarios led to substantial differences in land use patterns, which affected river flow as well as nutrient loads in two of the four modelled catchments (Danish Odense Å and Norwegian Skuterud), but not in two others (Swedish catchment C6 and Finnish Simojoki). (c) Strongly contrasting scenarios (NBP1 maximizing resource circularity versus NBP5 maximizing short-term profit) were found to lead to similar monetary estimates of total societal benefits, though for different underlying reasons – a pattern similar across the six studied Nordic catchments. (d) The ecological status of small to medium sized rivers in agricultural landscapes benefitted greatly from an increase in riparian forest cover from 10 % to 60 %. Riparian buffer strips, constructed wetlands, rewetting of ditched peatlands, and similar nature-based solutions optimize natural biogeochemical processes and thus can help in mitigating negative impacts of intensified biomass removal on water quality.

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Series: Catena
ISSN: 0341-8162
ISSN-E: 1872-6887
ISSN-L: 0341-8162
Volume: 228
Article number: 107054
DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2023.107054
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
4111 Agronomy
4112 Forestry
Funding: This paper is a contribution from the Nordic Centre of Excellence BIOWATER, funded by Nordforsk under project number 82263.
Copyright information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (