CCN News

Irish mini-catchments programme making good progress
added on 29 04 2010 by Clare Black
Last week I joined colleagues from the US and Ireland to chair the steering group of the Irish Mini Catchments Programme, now in its half way point of Read more..

Last week I joined colleagues from the US and Ireland to chair the steering group of the Irish Mini Catchments Programme, now in its half way point of an initial 5 years of funding c 2007-11. On this occasion the meeting was in the West, Co.s Galway and Mayo and this was the first time I had attended the steering group when the team was truely up and running. It reminded me that in any new catchment programme – like the one we are currently rolling out inthe UK – that it takes time to get things running. Phil Jordan and colleagues from Teagasc are doing a most excellent job in taking the initiative forward with some new new long-term data sets from around the country. I think that this is at the moment the best such programme in the world that I am aware f but I am worried that it must continue with funding beyind the current end projected for 2011. Catchment change is a long term game, we must consolidate on investments and see out initiatives into the future. Well done to Phil and colleagues, I look forward to the next meeting. Here are a few pictures from the meeting …..

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SCaMP Conference 2010
added on 26 04 2010 by Clare Black
The SCaMP Conference in Manchester last week hosted by United Utilities was designed to give a broad overview of their successes to date and importantly Read more..

The SCaMP Conference in Manchester last week hosted by United Utilities was designed to give a broad overview of their successes to date and importantly how the benefits of the scheme were being expanded via SCaMP 2 to other non-UU owned land critical for water supply in Cumbria (around Thirlmere and Haweswater), Rivington and the West Pennines.

Positive benefits of the scheme were many and varied including the rise in quality of SSSI designated land via the re-wetting of upland moorlands through grip blocking,  landscape-scale improvements across a range of biodiversity target habitats and species, evidence of improvements in raw water quality (colour, pathogen loading, suspended sediments), increasing the potential for carbon sequestration in upland catchments, and promoting recreation and heritage.

There are areas that need a stronger evidence base. It was recognized that managing land use to reduce flood risk would take a considerable amount of time and effort to quantify. A pilot study by the Environment Agency in the Forest of Bowland has shown that uncertainty in the data was greater than any change that could be measured.  Any baseline for such work is constantly moving as our weather and climate changes (from individual events, seasonal changes and annual variability) and this variability is predicted to become more important into the future, making the gathering of information even more challenging.

It was highlighted on several occasions that impact and evidence for positive change, particularly for water quality indicators was a long-term objective and catchments-scale management was a long-term process principally because of the ecological lag-times between action and response. Crucially, communicating the positive benefits of these schemes with land owners and farmers needs some improvement and engagement strategies will have to find ways of  embedding the principles of sustainable land management with these target groups on which uptake of these schemes are so vital.

What the day showed was that SCaMP has provided a really valuable starting point from which the Demonstration Test Catchments and other catchments scale projects can learn from and from which they can develop and refine their methodologies.

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  1. Ruth Alcock Says:

    Presentations from the SCaMP conference and the year 4 monitoring progress report can be found on the United Utilities website at - http://www.unitedutilities.com/SCaMPdatalibrary.htm

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FBA summit gets real about expectations for catchment change
added on 15 04 2010 by Clare Black
Prof Graham Harris of Lancaster Environment Centre, along with colleagues this week hosted a successful international summit in Windermere focussed on Read more..

Prof Graham Harris of Lancaster Environment Centre, along with colleagues this week hosted a successful international summit in Windermere focussed on ‘Achieving Ecological Outcomes’. Working with colleagues from the FBA, the summit welcomed scientists from the US, Australia, South Africa and Europe to attempt to get to grips with issues of catchment management. Among the issues that resonated for me were (1) an agreement that raising high level awareness does have value (see my previous post by the EA’s director of Evidence) (2) general acceptance of the view that we are in it for the long haul and that and positive change in water quality will probably take tens of years to show an improvement, if at all…. So the challenge is to persuade the nation that we have the issue but at the same time we investing water quality for future generations and certainly not Water Framework Directive Targets of 2015….. Congratulations to Graham and team for an excellent meeting, helped along by the beauty of the Lake DIstrict in the spring sun. Some snaps I took at the meeting are available here…

FBA Meeting April 2009

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Environment Agency's Miranda Kavanagh calls for wake up to national awareness....
added on 15 04 2010 by Clare Black
The Director of Evidence spoke to me at the Windermere FBA summit this week calling for increased awareness of environmental issues as a means of making Read more..

The Director of Evidence spoke to me at the Windermere FBA summit this week calling for increased awareness of environmental issues as a means of making way for change. Spot in Miranda…so let’s make it happen…

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LOST: agricultural extension service......
added on 01 04 2010 by Clare Black
Yesterday and today I have been in Edinburgh at their biennial SAC SEPA conference on Climate, Water and Soil: Science, Policy, Practice (I gave a keynote Read more..

Yesterday and today I have been in Edinburgh at their biennial SAC SEPA conference on Climate, Water and Soil: Science, Policy, Practice (I gave a keynote on ‘Managing soil and water for multiple objectives’). Congratulations to Brian D’Arcy from SEPA on his retirement and a great job inspiring these meetings over the years. In a terrific discussion led by Brian Chambers, there was a general consensus for multifuntional land use needs in the lowlands and a view from the floor (c. 100 delegates) that we had suffered with the loss of our extenion service, especially in England and Wales (Scotland perhaps less so). It’s a no brainer really isn’t it? So what went wrong and more importantly what can we do about it?

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