Tackling non-point source pollution in intensive agricultural area, near Paris, faces several barriers. In order to stimulate communication between stakeholders, ALFAwetlands partner: INRAE in cooperation with AQUI’Brie: association to protect ground water resources developed tools and serious game to support participatory approaches.
The objectives were to test tools that would facilitate dialogue on diffuse pollution and to discuss about two levers of actions: changes in agricultural practices and landscape management including nature based solutions such as constructed wetlands.
Beginning of the story
The story started in 2005 with a co-construction of constructed wetland in a small sub-catchment in Rampillon rural village. The step by step process was analysed afterwards as “oriented” reducing the participatory involvement. Nevertheless after constructed wetland building in 2010, a long period 2012-2022 of performance assessment allowed partners to fill all the water quality improvement. But the constructed wetland contributed also into several other ecosystem services such as: biodiversity refuge, educational vector as well as becoming an actual place to discuss about nature based solution with public.
In parallel, starting in 2016, a project focused on upscaling the local action (from Rampillon constructed wetland within 355 ha sub-catchment) to a larger territory (restoration of 170 ha of wetland for 132 000 ha catchment). A group of 50 stakeholders from farmers, actors of agricultural sectors, industrial sectors, representatives of local communities, governmental services, and environmental associations met 8 times. Those meetings were delivered during 3 years through workshops or individual interviews.
The scientific group tested three levels of participatory approaches:
- Perception (sharing the perceptions of the territory using preselected cards to illustrate the participants answers);
- Territorial scenario using agronomic simulator and discussing on two contrasted scenarios, favouring 1)food production intensification and the opposite 2) environment and water quality;
- Serious game to create a virtual test environment and imagine individual and collective “risk-free” solutions.
Experience to consider for replication
These take home experience can be considered for replication on other areas.
The need for hybrid skills means to develop an interdisciplinary research group, including the support of consultancy companies dedicated to accompanying dialogue. Local coordinators are indispensable for gathering stakeholders and by translating research results into action plans. Lastly, the importance of a demonstrator such as Living Lab is valuable for stakeholders to identify clearly the Nature based Solutions benefits with local data.
Advantages for ALFAwetlands and next steps
This co-creation experience is very valuable for ALFAwetlands project, which will contribute to gaining scientific results on gas emissions and specifically on carbon balance of constructed wetland receiving agricultural water. Considering water quality, landscape, biodiversity and carbon balance, nature based solutions such as constructed wetland, provide benefit for all natural compartments and agricultural benefits.
ALFAwetlands will further communicate these benefits to its stakeholders, test and share co-creation experiences between its different Living Labs and beyond to protect and restore European valuable wetlands.
Prepared by Dr Julien TOURNEBIZE, senior researcher, HYCAR research unit, INRAE, Antony, France (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Link for a summary video of the participatory approach (in French): https://youtu.be/YG2BrHgQnWA
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