Better land management for a multifunctional landscape

Credit: DCRT

The latest iCASP Project will help advise the Don Catchment Rivers Trust on their Hidden Heritage Secret Streams project. This is based on the Upper Rother Catchment, a tributary of the River Don. One of the aims of the project is to improve the way land is managed so that it provides both social and heritage benefits.

Volunteers will be recruited to put in place small and simple changes to reduce river pollution from different sources, slow the rate at which water flows down the river, and make it easier for different species to flourish by ensuring suitable habitats are connected up in the landscape.

At the moment, it’s difficult to prioritise what should be done because there isn’t enough available information on the different options and whether they can be carried out by volunteers. This is where iCASP can add most value.

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Eyeing up our rivers

Photo courtesy: Sheila Palmer, University of Leeds

The latest iCASP Project, The Derwent Data Finder, will  explore whether a collaborative monitoring system could help the Environment Agency to reduce costs and to gather more information. The Environment Agency currently spends 60 million pounds a year gathering information on the state of the water environment to meet regulatory requirements.

However, many other organisations, including iCASP partners and universities, also collect relevant data which if shared might fill existing knowledge gaps and prevent duplication.

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Managing land more beneficially

Photo Credit: Les Firbank

Leaving the EU gives the UK an opportunity to rethink farm subsidies. The government is currently exploring how to incentivise farmers and land owners to improve water quality, soil health  and flood protection. This is where iCASP can help. The Agri-Land Management for Public Goods Delivery Project is going to review and consolidate the evidence on land management interventions which generate a wide range of public goods.

The Review will focus on a selection of land management activities currently undertaken in the River Ouse drainage basin area of Yorkshire, including those supported through Countryside Stewardship.

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Enhanced Surface Water Flood Forecasting Project

Yorkshire is prone to all sources of inland flooding: from rivers, rising groundwater, flash floods and prolonged heavy rainfall which can cause surface water flooding. Arguably flooding from rivers is more straightforward to forecast because rises in water level can be measured and seen in advance. However, in the case of rainfall, it is harder to forecast precisely where heavy prolonged rain is going to fall and therefore if that rainfall will cause surface water flooding by landing somewhere with inadequate drainage.

Up until now surface water flood forecasts have been limited to relatively coarse–scale county-level red/amber/green warnings issued by the Flood Forecasting Centre and static risk maps, which are more useful for longer term planning. The iCASP Enhanced Surface Water Flood Forecasting Project will therefore convert the latest advances in probabilistic rainfall forecasting and high-resolution surface water modelling into useful real-time forecasts to help authorities which have to react to potential flood events.

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Getting to grips with natural flood management

Natural flood management pilot schemes in Yorkshire are the focus of an iCASP project to develop best practice for modelling and monitoring. Defra’s 25 year Environment Plan highlights the important role that natural flood management techniques can play in flood risk management. The Yorkshire work will therefore contribute valuable learning for the rest of the UK. The iCASP project will help to develop best practice and show how natural flood management can deliver a range of benefits in addition to flood protection.

Read moreGetting to grips with natural flood management

Maximising pay-back from peat restoration

Efforts to restore Yorkshire’s vast peat bogs will soon be getting a welcome boost, thanks to a new project being developed by the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP).

The Yorkshire Peat Partnership and Moors for the Future Partnership will be working with the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Durham to develop tools that people can use when they consider how to get the most value from restoring a bog even as the climate changes.

The project team will develop a user-friendly and updated version of a modelling tool called DigiBog. They will also create a ‘menu of methods’ for valuing the benefits of peatland restoration. This will help restoration practitioners plan their programmes to generate maximum social benefit.

 

Read moreMaximising pay-back from peat restoration

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