Multifunctional landscapes – water quality

Water quality can be positively or negatively affected by the ways in which we use land. Certain agricultural practices can result in negative impacts, such as the use of excessive chemical inputs like fertiliser or pesticides. Soil erosion caused by livestock trampling or tilling for crops can also result in greater levels of run-off from fields into rivers and reservoirs.

Some land management practices, such as mixed woodland conservation or peatland restoration can result in positive outcomes for water quality, as the natural processes help to filter water before it reaches rivers and reservoirs. Many of these types of land management can have additional benefits for other things we use land for, such as food production, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, recreation and protection from floods, droughts and wildfires.

The Royal Society’s Multifunctional Landscapes report advises on the use of science to increase the productivity of land and makes recommendations on the data, innovation, skills and policy required to create landscapes which meet society’s many needs efficiently and sustainably.