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Task 2

The second task of National Research Programme 'Sustainability of agro, forest and water ecosystems' – study how the intensive exploitation of resources affects agro-, forest and water ecosystems, identify the long-term consequences and the possible damage caused by such impact, and propose measures for the restoration of sustainability.

Two measures have been envisaged with respect to the second task under the Programme:

Measure 1 – study the impact of the extended and intensive use of resources on soil and other components of agro-, forest and water ecosystems.

The activities under this measure will include fundamental and applied research with a view to acquiring new knowledge which will help ensure the sustainability of ecosystems, their biological diversity and will retain the functions under the conditions of the ever intensifying exploitation of resources, and climatic and environmental change. The research conducted will seek to study new methods of intensive exploitation of agro-systems, their impact on sustainability and productivity, and also examine the structure of the soil, its chemical composition in relation to the changes in the abundance of groups of pedobiota organisms and biological diversity. The studies will also include a simulation of the interrelationship between climate change and intensive crop and animal production, while assessing its impact on the biological diversity of agro-ecosystems, carbon and water balance and the quality of water. 

Under the Programme researchers will study the impact of the disbalanced development agriculture and intensification of plant growing by violating the principles of good agricultural practice on the sustainability of agro-ecosystems. In addition, it is intended to renew and expand studies in the leaching of mineral fertilisers and pesticides from agricultural areas, the transformation and migration of fertilisers and pesticides to surface and underground water bodies, and the impact of such developments on the sustainability of ecosystems, as well as the efforts taken to specify their exchange models. Research will be undertaken to identify the possible impact of the removal of the biomass from ecosystems in relation to forest felling on the soils of forest ecosystems, substance exchange, biological diversity and the productiveness of stands. The researchers will analyse the extent of the preservation of biological diversity which may be useful for strengthening the sustainability of agro-, forest and water ecosystems, and for increasing their productivity under the conditions of the long-term intensive use of resources and climate change; 

Measure 2 – identify the threats to ecosystems caused by the intensive employment of technologies and the measures needed for the restoration of their sustainability.

The activities under the measure will include comprehensive studies in the impact of agricultural, forest and fisheries technologies on agro-, forest and water ecosystems. In addition, research will be undertaken in food product flows in agro-ecosystems, the peculiarities of their accumulations and balance under the conditions of the intensifying agriculture and concentrated livestock farming in order to establish possible ways of increasing the efficiency in food product absorption, recirculation and reduce the leaching of such products on ground and surface waters.

Studies will be conducted on the threats of the intensive use of agro-, forest and water ecosystems on their sustainability defining the limits and the standards of the use of ecosystems, identifying ecological, economic and social criteria and indicators facilitating an assessment of the impact of the use of the different methods and technologies of the use of agro-, forest and water ecosystems on their long-term sustainability, and the submitting of proposals for an improvement of the models for monitoring and forecasting environmental impacts.

Studies will be carried out on trends in the prevalence of pests, diseases and weeds in intensive crops, the immediate and indirect threats of the rapidly intensifying use of chemical control means on biological diversity, in addition to an assessment of the risk of a leak of pesticides and fertilisers into water ecosystems providing for their ultimate control measures.

The research activities under the Programme will include complex studies on changes to the structure of the landscape caused by the intensifying of economic activities and the threats caused by such changes on ecological functions and biological diversity. Having regard to the intensifying use of biofuels and the increasing volumes of waste in fuel incineration, studies will be conducted on the impact of ash on the sustainability of soils of different types or acidity, with a view to developing ash use technologies and the drawing up of the respective regulations. The integrated interdisciplinary studies will be conducted with a view to substantiating measures proposed for the purpose of restoration and enhancement of the sustainability of the intensively exploited agro-, forest and water ecosystems, and for identifying principles for the use of ecosystems and the development of respective models.