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Understanding, communicating and managing uncertainty and risk related to future changes in catchments.

SCaMP Conference 2010

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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One Response to “SCaMP Conference 2010”

  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