Restoration Programme of Landscape Recovery of the Košice Region 

Restoration Programme of Landscape Recovery of the Košice Region aims to restore the land and revitalize water resources and watersheds, resulting in economic recovery. The restoration plan will guarantee water, food, environmental, and climate security at the regional level within ten years.

 

Water supply in the Košice Region, Slovakia, is currently limited and insufficient for its long-term needs. Land alterations and changes to the structure of the landscape have damaged the hydrological function of ecosystems. Especially in the Eastern Slovak Lowlands, Above, Spiš and Gemer, there is a documented time and spatial change in precipitation distribution. Such precipitation changes manifest in increased heavy rainfall and prolonged rain-free seasons, forming large thermal islands. Local torrential rains result in flooding, whereas rain-free periods cause drought. Drought has been prevalent in the spring and autumn. Extreme torrential rains tend to occur from May to late summer several times.

Increased risk of droughts requires immediate attention. The Košice Region’s challenge is to respond flexibly to climate change by optimally using the countryside. The most effective solution is the ecosystem restoration of water supply in the damaged and dehydrated landscape, retaining rainwater, slowing down its drainage and infiltration, consequently preventing floods. Integrated water and land-use management will provide adequate water supply and resilience for people, nature, and food security. 

For size approximation, the Košice region is comparable to Delaware and Rhode Island combined. The region of fewer than 7000 km2 with 800 thousand inhabitants has the ambition to restore its damaged landscape by increasing its ecosystem water retaining capacity by 60 million m3.  Restoration will regenerate natural resources such as water, food, and biodiversity, rehabilitate the climate, and mitigate weather fluctuations. Improved water reserves will restore soil fertility. Re-established biodiversity will support the country’s resilience to invasive plant and animal species and pandemic diseases within ten years.


The Initiative of the Košice Region is motivated by United Nations Resolution 73/284, which declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and Revitalization. „The political leadership of the Košice Region is fully aware of the seriousness of the global risks to the security of the world. Therefore, we are launching the Restoration Programme of the Košice Region as a sign of support for the UN Resolution. Instead of waiting for others to provide alternate solutions, we commit to contribute to a better, healthier, and the climate-safe world“, says Michal Kravčík, the restoration initiative author and the 1999 recipient of Goldman environmental prize.

Košice regional government aims to mitigate weather fluctuations, reduce regional temperatures, improve soil fertility, and increase water resources reserves. The €410 million investment will create 3,000 new green jobs. It is to be returned within 10 years while storing as much carbon in biomass and soil as the region produces. The program is supported by Rastislav Trnka, the chairman of the regional Košice government, and approved unanimously by all attending regional parliament members.

The restoration initiative background remarks several goals:  

  1. Integrated water and land-use management will increase the country’s water supply.
  2. Water, land, and energy are the cornerstones of every community, region, and country. These three resources always ensure human survival at every corner of the world.
  3. The triangle Water – Energy – Food (WEF) nexus attracts a lot of attention from economists and researchers worldwide as a challenge to address economic growth problems related to water, energy, and food. In 2011, the World Economic Forum published a report entitled ‚Water-Security: The Water-Food-Energy-Climate Nexus,‘ which stresses that an integrated approach to water, energy, and food can increase resource security, efficiency, poverty reduction, and better resource management in all sectors. 
  4. To achieve sustainable water-energy-food nexus, all natural, human, and social scientists must combine their efforts in solving problems. Košice Restoration Plan aspires to provide an integrated policy approach. We invite others to accompany the initiative of the Košice Region.
  5. The Košice Region Landscape Recovery Plan wants to bring topics such as water, energy and food, weather, climate change, and biodiversity into real life. We want to find solutions to the WEF approach because climate change affects all the phases: water for the thirsty world, soil fertility, extreme heat, and natural disasters.
  6. Integration policies for water, energy, food, and biodiversity need to be defined and enforced at any public policy level. A trio of these commodities will be limiting factors for any development and survival of humanity.
  7. The growing challenge is to include health, the environment, trade, biodiversity, and international aid, which brings an even higher level of integration and a valid basis for strategic decision-making. With the Košice Region Landscape Recovery Programme plan, we want to achieve sustainable management of natural resources for future generations.
  8. The water security of the region, soil fertility, biodiversity, and economic resiliency can be achieved by understanding the value of integrated land-and-water management and the value of the precipitation recharging the groundwater and the ecosystems in rural and urban areas. The greening of the countryside and the greening of the cities depend on water. Retaining rainwater where it falls or allowing it to stay locally is paramount to groundwater recharge and ample water supply. 

Conclusion:

The concept of land renewal of the Košice Region is designed to increase and strengthen water storage capacity across the board. Retained rainwater water has the ability to repair damaged forests and rehydrate the agricultural and urbanized landscapes. Rainwater that currently drains away without benefit should preferably seep into the soil, thereby restoring and strengthening groundwater reserves. Recharged aquifers will supply enough moisture for the vegetation, enabling the evaporation that pumps the heat from the overheated earth’s surface into the atmosphere’s higher colder layers. Consequently, retained rainwater strengthens the land thermoregulation, ensuring that carbon is deposited from the atmosphere in biomass and soil through photosynthesis and prevents permanent soil degradation. 

The comprehensive 117-page The Košice Region Landscape Recovery Plan assesses and summarises the impact of several land-water management measures needed to be built to achieve green recovery. The plan is to implement 59.63 million m3 of water retention measures in the Košice region, cyclically retaining all rainwater events up to 60 mm. Restoration projects are organized by county and are designed independently for individual landscape structures such as arable land, vineyards, gardens, orchards, permanent lawns and meadows, forests, surface freshwater and, developed urban areas. Each system calls for a different type of implemented measure. The proposed landscape transformation exceeds the currently available outlines of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

 

VIDEO(Slovak): Members of regional parliament vote for program. Approved by 100%.