Chris Short spoke at a Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network event at Bristol Aquarium on Monday 10th February. The event tilted ‘Systemic solutions at the landscape-water interface‘ brought together a wide range of participants and speakers from the water and land-based sectors. The focus of the conference was the need to take an ecosystems approach when dealing with issues of water and land management, as currently being developed by the Environment Agency in the Catchment-based Approach. However, water companies are also looking into dealing with issues around water quality and flow in an integrated way, and this was one of the case studies that Chris spoke about in his talk ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services: Stakeholder and Participatory approaches on the Cotswold Catchment Pilot.
As Chris outlined ‘clearly there has been a huge focus on the issue of flooding this winter as a result of the record rainfall for January alone but for me this highlights the need to think of our catchments as a functioning system rather than a single stretch of flooded river, however tragic that might be at a personal level. The catchment-based approach is for the first time bringing together partnerships and from that projects that are seeking to provided a wide range of solutions, mostly with multiple benefits such as flood alleviation and biodiversity, so that the catchment can be more resilient to events such as those of the 2013/14 winter. This requires a range of skills including the need for participatory events so that all critical partners feel that they are part of the solution rather than part of the problem. The work of the Centre for the Study of Floods and Communities has show how important including local communities are in order for the memory and meaning of flood events to be realised. Alongside the Environment Agency and farmers and landowners there can be a meaningful discussion to catchment management at a variety of scales.‘