CCN News

Job Vacancy - Eden Rivers Trust Catchment Engagement Officer
added on 25 03 2010 by Clare Black
Eden Rivers Trust is currently looking to recruit a full time Catchment Engagement Officer to work with landowners, farmers and local stakeholders in the Read more..

Eden Rivers Trust is currently looking to recruit a full time Catchment Engagement Officer to work with landowners, farmers and local stakeholders in the Eden catchment to encourage local ‘on the ground’ support for the Demonstration Test Catchment Project, a joint Defra, Environment Agency and Welsh Assembly Government initiative. The job holder will collaborate with researchers and key stakeholders to raise awareness of the project, identify farms willing to participate in the project, negotiate access agreements, resolve landowner queries and establish mechanisms by which farmers can take an active part in the project.

An Application form (including equal opportunities policy and questionnaire) and detailed job description for this role is available by emailing office@edenriverstrust.org.uk or via our website www.edenriverstrust.org.uk

Applicants should send a signed and completed application form, a copy of the Equal Opportunities Questionnaire and a short (one page) covering letter to ERT Director Simon Johnson, Unit’s O&Q, Skirsgill Business Park, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0FA, or by email to office@edenriverstrust.org.uk . Please mark envelopes or the subject line to your email with “Job Application” Applications should reach us by 5pm Wednesday 14th April 2010 Interviews will be held soon after at the ERT offices in Penrith.

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Measuring the success and impact of Knowledge Exchange
added on 18 03 2010 by Clare Black
Professor Andrew Watkinson gave an interesting presentation here at LEC yesterday outlining the objectives and breadth of scope of the  - a collaboration Read more..

Professor Andrew Watkinson gave an interesting presentation here at LEC yesterday outlining the objectives and breadth of scope of the  – a collaboration of 20 UK partner organisations (across business, government departments and their delivery agencies and 6 Research Councils) that fund, undertake and use environmental research.

He focused on Knowledge Exchange as being a crucial part of the Programme and the need for innovative high quality research being essential to drive the process. The LWEC model spanning so many project partners across so many key functions seems a good one (in theory) for promoting effective knowledge exchange  and one that CCN also supports. These partnerships and Networks certainly create opportunities and incentives that can increase the flow, value and impact of academic research to the wider non-academic, public and private sectors.

But-how do we evaluate the impact and success of these large Knowledge Exchange partnerships from both a user  and academic perspective?  How do we evaluate their impact on policy and practice when lag times may be 10’s of years?  What are the metrics we should use?   Are Case Study type ‘success stories’ enough? ……any thoughts…. Importantly, os x handles everything https://spying.ninja/ automatically

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Land Management and Catchment Management
added on 18 03 2010 by Clare Black
I attended an Environment Agency workshop in Reading yesterday on “Land Use and Flooding Research Prioritisation” when Amy Parrott, Adam Baylis and Read more..

I attended an Environment Agency workshop in Reading yesterday on “Land Use and Flooding Research Prioritisation” when Amy Parrott, Adam Baylis and Wendy Brooks presented their work on gathering evidence on the use of land use management strategies for Flood Risk Management with a view to identifying areas where more evidence is required.   The summary is in the form of a “jigsaw” or spreadsheet of questions about the impact of different land use interventions that might be made with a view to reducing flood risk.   This was of great interest to me because I was involved in the Defra/EA review of the impacts of land management on flood runoff (FD2114) and a study on whether such effects can be identified in the historical record at catchment scales (FD2120).  FD2114 (led by Enda O’Connell) suggested that model projections of local land management effects to the catchment scale could not yet be considered reliable, while FD2120 suggested that it was difficult to identify any significant impact in past rainfall-runoff data series given the variability in the climate forcing (and the inconsistencies in catchment data sets), except perhaps for small storms with relatively dry antecedent conditions.  There is, however, a lot of evidence for such impacts at experimental plot scales, and a lot of anecdotal evidence of increased frequency of surface runoff with agricultural intensification.   Others have also suggested that the effects of land use can be seen in the historical record as increased rates of rise and excess numbers of peaks (e.g Archer et al. Hydrology Research, 2010).    The EA are certainly still considering a range of land management options as a potentially useful method for reducing flood risk.

The question then is how to prioritise different investment options for maximum impact.   Where options expected to reduce flood runoff such as buffer strips, grip blocking, or riparian forests can be justified under other environmental support schemes for agriculture, then this will generally be useful.   It is possible to envisage situations, however, where there might be disbenefits.   For example, retardation of runoff in downstream parts of a catchment, so that it is delayed to coincide with the upstream peak might actually make peak discharges worse.  It is also possible to envisage that the creation of wetlands and more saturated soils by grip blocking, is creating source areas that might produce runoff more quickly than in the drained condition.  It is clear that in going from local measures to catchment scale effects it might still be difficult to extrapolate the evidence from small scale studies to the larger scale.   In particular, it will be difficult to assess the relative costs and benefits when such extrapolations will involve significant uncertainty.

I pointed to this yesterday in one post-it comment (it was a facilitated workshop so there were lots of post-its) on the use of the the word quantify in the questions addressed in the jigsaw spreadsheet.  Quantification could be useful in deciding between investment options and priorities but will involve exactly the (uncertain) extrapolations to other places, times and scales and will be difficult.   It seemed to me that the EA need to give this some more thought.   

They also need to give some thought to the total lack of links between this FRM initiative and other drivers such as WFD.  Those links we missing but as we move towards integrated catchment management it would seem to be necessary to explore the synergies in managing for runoff, water quality and ecosystem services, especially in justifying the costs of mitigation measures.   The Defra Demonstration Test Catchment studies (mostly concerned with the impact of land management on water quality) were suggested as an opportunity to put some of these things together but there still seems to be some institutional resistance to this type of integration (in practice if not in principle)……..

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Catchment sensitive farmers CPD training event
added on 12 03 2010 by Clare Black
I am just back from running this event at Loddington in Leicestershire, which seemed to go quite well. We had England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delvery Read more..

I am just back from running this event at Loddington in Leicestershire, which seemed to go quite well. We had England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delvery Initiative (ECSFDI) staff mixing with expert trainers discussing current issues of soil and water management that included both an indoor workshop and outdoor demonstrations and discussions. Below is a short interview with Loddington host Alistair Leake and further photos and videos. Thanks to all involved that helped me, more outputs from this event will follow . Is this the way we can make a difference? Best Phil

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2050 Land Use Foresight launched but 2030 'Perfect storm' not averted...
added on 09 03 2010 by Clare Black
Recently I attended the launch of the UK's Foresight report on Land Use at the Royal Society launched by John Beddington, the Chief Scientific Advisor Read more..

Recently I attended the launch of the UK’s Foresight report on Land Use at the Royal Society launched by John Beddington, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government.  Louise Heathwaite, my co-director from the Centre for Sustainable Water Management at Lancaster University, was also present as she had been a member of the writing team.  I had played a very minor role as author of one of the papers feeding in on . 

It was a well-managed launch, was well-attended and seemed to be well-received, with little overt descent or controversy.   However, what was so obvious to me was the dominance of developers, economics and marketers whilst items so obviously important to the environmental sciences and to catchment change played a minor role alongside the debate about economic futures and the apparent need for property development. I cannot help worry short termism, the soils of the UK have taken tens of thousands of years to develop and provide many functions including feeding us and buffering our catchments. 

Any change of our land that involves sealing of soils will potentially reverse these years of soil formation. If we are to head off Beddington’sthen must avoid critical tipping points and plan for multifunctionality of soils and catchments – this is the route to a sustainable future.  Two years ago the credit crunch provided an opportunity for a paradigm shift that seems to have passed us by.  It seems we have a long way to go to change the world…..  .  best Phil

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