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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Component

SummaryImproving the health of the ecosystem as a whole , the reintroduction of the salmon in the river and the control of non-point source pollution were the most salient of the new goals of the first edition of the Rhine Action Plan (RAP), (1987-2000).
SubtypeFormal Governance System
SectorFresh Water Pollution
Begin Date1987
End Date2000
ExplanationThe first edition of the Plan was for 4 years. The Plan has been successively re-edited.
Governance ScaleInternational Regime
Governance System Description 
Governance TriggerSudden disturbance
ExplanationOn November 1, 1986, a heavy pollution wave now called the Sandoz Accident occurred in the course of putting out a warehouse fire in Basle, Switzerland. The warehouse contained 30,000 kg of toxic chemicals including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. This discharge of organophosphorous and organochlorine compounds had a high selective mortality effect on the eel Anguilla anguilla population (a fish formerly considered less sensitive to pollution). This incident was also extremely detrimental to other fish populations, macro-invertebrates, and plankton communities. In response to the Sandoz accident, the ICPR developed the Rhine Action Program.
Type Of Formal GovernanceManagement plan
ExplanationThe overall goal of the program is to improve water quality by meeting the following objectives, by the year 2000 (Van den Brink et al. 1994; Van Dijk et al. 1995): 1) To create conditions that can support the return of higher trophic level species such as Salmon salar; 2) To protect the Rhine River as a source for drinking water; 3) To decrease the contamination of sediments, suspended matter, and the biota due to toxic compounds; 4) To meet water quality standards mandated in the North Sea Action Plan; 5) To follow the ‘Ecological Master Plan for the Rhine River’. This plan dictates two major ecosystem based goals: a) To restore the mainstream and its main tributaries, as habitats for migratory fish; and b) To improve and protect ecologically important areas of the Rhine River and the Rhine valley with an emphasis on increasing the biodiversity of indigenous flora and fauna. The initial years of the Rhine Action Program focused exclusively on water quality improvement. The Rhine states agreed on a target reduction of 50% of the pollution caused by priority compounds by the year 1995. In addition water quality targets were set for about 50 priority compounds based on the requirements for drinking water supply, the protection of aquatic life forms, and on human tolerance levels for fish consumption (Schulte, 1992). Rehabilitation efforts involved sewage and water treatment plants, decrease in point source discharges, reinforcing shorelines with large stones and planting of riparian vegetation, and use of seasonal chemical and biological concentration techniques to monitor water quality.
CentralizationSomewhat centralized (3)
ExplanationThe ICPR Secretariat concentrates all administrative and operational decision making power; the ICPR Secretariat is however accountable and regularly steered by ICPR members