Joint management of groundwater dependent ecosystems in transboundary Gauja - Koiva river basin (GroundEco)

State limited Liability Company “Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre” (LEGMC) starts GroundEco project.  Project is being implemented with the support of Interreg V - A Estonia - Latvia Cross - border cooperation programme 2014 - 2020.


Need for GroundEco project

Politically Gauja - Koiva river basin is divided by border between Estonia and Latvia, still it has a common water cycle, including groundwater. Joint management of transboundary Gauja - Koiva river basin is demanded not only by geographical and hydrological conditions, but also by requirements from EU water policy (Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC) which is binding for both countries.

Groundwater dependant ecosystems (GDEs) are valuable ecosystems which existence rely on groundwater input, therefore they cannot be assessed separately. Any changes in water supply can result in significant and permanent damage of dependent flora and fauna. The identification of such ecosystems is complicated and their studies requires interdisciplinary and modern approaches.

GDEs are directly or indirectly protected by number of EU directives and international agreements. Many GDEs are listed in Natura 2000 network of protected sites. However, human induced activities (such as melioration, extraction of mineral deposits or fertilization) are significant treat for maintenance of GDE quality or even their existence. As well overall public awareness of groundwater and GDEs protection is low, resulting in increased pressures from anthropogenic activities.


Aim of the project

The objective of GroundEco project is to enhance sustainable management of common groundwater resources and associated ecosystems in the transboundary Gauja - Koiva river basin. This will be achieved (1) through the development of a joint methodology for GDE identification and assessment, (2) its implementation and verification in pilot areas in close cooperation between Estonian and Latvian authorities and research institutions and (3) increased public awareness of groundwater and associated nature protection.

Project's main activities

  1. Identification and exchange of data necessary for project implementation;
  2. Development of a joint methodology and its implementation in Gauja - Koiva river basin;
  3. Pilot studies and development of conceptual models (research object - spring mires and spring complex);
  4. Recommendations for better management of transboundary Gauja - Koiva river basin and project result dissemination.

Project results will be incorporated into 3rd period River basin management plans (2022 - 2027). Recommendation will be used in planning process of national groundwater monitoring programmes in Estonia and Latvia. Research results will be disseminated in form of scientific articles as well as in partners official homepages and social networks.

Project partners:

  • Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, Hydrogeology Division (lead partner) (LV)
  • Ministry of Environment (EE)
  • Geological Survey of Estonia (EE)
  • Tallinn University, Institute of Ecology (EE)
  • Nature Conservation Agency,  Nature Protection Department (LV)
  • University of Latvia, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences (LV)
  • Vidzeme Planning Region (LV)


Total budget of the projects is EUR 411 764,72. Interreg V - A Estonia - Latvia Cross - border cooperation programme contributes EUR 350 000,00 EUR and partners' self - contribution is EUR 61 764,72. Project No. Est-Lat62

Project duration is 26 months (10.05.2018. - 09.07.2020.)

Project coordinator and contact point: Inga Retike (


GroundEco is financed from Interreg V - A Estonia - Latvia Cross - border cooperation programme 2014-2020. More information about the programme in

"This article reflects the views of the author. The managing authority of the programme is not liable for how this information may be used."

FINAL REPORT GroundEco_final_report.pdf



GroundEco Newsletter #1.pdf

GroundEco Newsletter #2.pdf

GroundEco Newsletter #3.pdf

GroundEco Newsletter #4.pdf



GroundEco Newsletter #1.pdf

GroundEco Newsletter #2.pdf

GroundEco Newsletter #3.pdf

GroundEco Newsletter #4.pdf





Project materials:

1. Project first meeting, July 5th - 6th (2018)

2. Project meeting, August 20th, WP2 Activity A.T2.1 “Development of common structure of groundwater and habitats data” (2018)

3. Project meeting, November 8th - 9th, Estonian and Latvian pilot site visit (2018)

4. Project meeting, November 28th, GWDTE methodology and pilot areas (2018)

5. Project seminar/workshop, March 28th, Introduction to Development of Conceptual Models of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (2019)

6. Project meeting, March 29th, GWDTE methodology development (2019)

7. European Geosciences Union General Assembly (2019)

8. Project seminar, November 28th, seminar on identifying and assessing groundwater dependent terrestrial ecosystems (2019)

9. 78th International scientific conference of the University of Latvia Special session “Hydrogeology and groundwater dependent ecosystems”, January 30 (2020)

10. Final event, June 29th (2020)