LIFE CONNECTS

LIFE CONNECTS is a LIFE+ Nature project with a budget of 10 million euro. The project aims to improve ecosystem functions and ecosystem services in seven southern Swedish rivers and in the long term also the Baltic Sea . This benefits people, biodiversity and sustainable water use. The two threathened mussel species, Thick-shelled river mussel (Unio crassus) and Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), together with the fish species Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) are target species for this unique project. If we can get these species to thrive again, the project will be a success with cleaner water and greater biodiversity as a result. Not only in the rivers where the project is being implemented but it is reasonable to assume positive effects in the Baltic Sea in the long run.
In seven streams, ecosystem features will be enhanced by creating free migration paths, passage opportunities at obstacles, and by adding a more varied bottom structure (sand, gravel, stone, blocks and dead wood), it will improve fish migration opportunities and habitats for fish and mussels for better water quality and more natural rivers.
The two mussel species, Thick-shelled river mussel and Freshwater pearl mussel, have a complex lifecycle in which the mussel as a larva lives parasitically on the gills of a host fish. The gills of the fish are both a food resource and a habitat necessary for the mussel to complete its life cycle. At present, we do not know exactly which species of fish are suitable for hosting the mussel in the various rivers, such as Atlantic salmon, Brown trout, European bullhead, and European river lamprey., Thus, within the project we will study this phenomenon by mapping fish species migration, their function as hosts – ie which fish species generate high growth and survival for the mussel larvae as well as the survival and growth of mussels that have been reintroduced into the river.
Another focus for the project are information efforts and communication. The project will constitute an engine for further water conservation projects, both nationally and internationally. The project runs during the period of 2019 to 2025.

Organisation

There are many different actors who will get involved in one way or another in the project. The picture below shows at the top end the largest financier and the bodies of the EU Commission that the project will have contact with. In the middle part are the partners that are part of the project and at the bottom section a selection of actors who will be more or less involved in the project.

This post is also available in: Svenska (Swedish)