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Confluence 14: Autumn 2011

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Confluence is the bi-annual newsletter of the Westcountry Rivers Trust. Confluence is packed with all of the latest news on the work of the Trust and what is happening in river restoration and …

Confluence is the bi-annual newsletter of the Westcountry Rivers Trust. Confluence is packed with all of the latest news on the work of the Trust and what is happening in river restoration and conservation across the Westcountry.

The Autumn 2011 edition contained special features on the Trust's approach to fisheries management and ecosystem services - as well as the usual news updates about all of our work on fisheries, fishing and catchment management.

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  • 1.  
  • 2.   CONTENTS  DIRECTORS COMMENTS 3 TRUST NEWS 4 FISHERIES MANAGEMENT: A FORMULA FOR FISHERIES 6 FISHERIES MANAGEMENT: EXE PROJECT ANGLING PASSPORT 8 FISHERIES MANAGEMENT: GET ONYOUR BIKE GO FISHING 10 CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT: CATCHMENT MANAGEMENTVISION 12 SPECIAL FEATURE: ECOSYSTEMS SERVICE OUR NEEDS 14 FROMTHE RIVER 21 FUNDRAISING NEWS 22 WRT DIGITAL 23 Cover Photo: A woodland river in Devon (iStockPhoto). Editor: Nick Paling Contributors: Dylan Bright, Laurence Couldrick, Bruce Stockley, Stephen Pryor, Hazel Kendall, Nick Paling, Viv Daly, Ray Gordon, Derrick Jones, Andrew Pym and Simon Steer. © Copyright: Westcountry Rivers Trust, 2011. The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Westcountry Rivers Trust or the trustees thereof and responsibility cannot be accepted for opinions herein. Whilst advertising is welcomed, such advertising and/or logos do not constitute Westcountry Rivers Trust endorsements of the products, services or companies involved. The Westcountry Rivers Trust is a registered charitable limited  company (Charity No: 1135007, Company No: 06545646). Printed by A sunny summer day on the Devon Avon 
  • 3.   COMMENT  Beans & bugs: can we assess the value of our ecosystems? 3 What is the difference between an economist and an ecologist ? One counts beans and the other counts bugs, traditionally. Flippancy aside, it is interesting to note that the word economy has the same root meaning as the word ecology from the Greek word oikos, meaning house. Furthermore, both can be defined as the ‘study of consequence’ ‐ one is the study of natural interactions and their consequences while the other is the study of fiscal interactions and their consequences. We are now starting to realize that the two sets of consequences are intimately bound together. In recent years our society has really started to value nature, not just philosophically and aesthetically but also financially. Mediated by this societal pressure in this modern age, ecologists are now increasingly finding themselves working more closely with economists to achieve their conservation goals. We (society) benefit from many resources and processes which are delivered by a natural, functioning environment. These benefits are known as ‘ecosystem services’ and include products such as clean drinking water and processes such as the decomposition of wastes and the regulation of the climate. These services have been identified and discussed for decades, but only recently has the terminology been formalised and made popular by the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. This four‐year study, involving thousands of scientists sought to audit the abundance and health of these services across the world. The study grouped ecosystem services into four broad categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of disease and flooding; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; and cultural, such as historic and recreational benefits. The findings showed that nearly all of these services, upon which we are completely reliant, are critically degraded and that we need, as a society, to start taking account of the full impact our actions have on them in all the decisions we make. This seems to be an impossibly complex task, but at the Westcountry Rivers Trust we have, in collaboration with our partners, already started to identify, quantify and economically value the services arising from river catchments. To achieve this we have developed maps of current ecosystem service provision and compared them with another showing the optimal provision of ecosystem services in an idealised landscape. The difference between these maps highlights areas that are not being optimally used or are damaged with regard to their service provision. These analyses have enabled us to work with the local community and local businesses that benefit from good quality environmental services and, in some cases, we have been able to prove that it is more cost‐effective to protect and restore the environment than continuing to pay more as a result of a service being degraded. For example, it is an estimated 65 times more cost‐effective for the regional water company to work with farmers and landowners and fund catchment restoration to improve the quality of river water than it is for the water company to fund the cleaning of that water after it is taken out of the river. Furthermore, this approach will not only improve the water quality in the river, but also create whole rafts of additional benefits to the environment. In this issue we will look at some of the other new and developing economic mechanisms for funding environmental protection and restoration which enable private investment in the environment by recognising the value of nature. Dr Dylan Bright  Trust Director WRT staff receive RIVPACS invertebrate sampling training 
  • 4.   TRUST NEWS  4 Spring is in full swing  Dylan Bright addresses Chinese delegation  Laurence receives his award  Hard summer gives way to a fruitful autumn WHILE  THE  WEATHER  HAS  MADE  IT  A  HARD  SUMMER  FOR  FARMERS,  FISHERMEN  AND  HOLIDAYMAKERS  IN  THE  WESTCOUNTRY THIS YEAR, IT HAS BEEN A VERY EXCITING TIME FOR THE WESTCOUNTRY RIVERS TRUST. AFTER YEARS OF  HARD GRAFT IT SEEMS WE ARE STARTING TO GET SOME RECOGNITION FOR WORK WE HAVE DONE TO PROTECT RIVERS.   After years of campaigning and action it seems we are starting to win some recognition for work we are doing to protect and enhance the Westcountry’s fantastic rivers. The Strategic Evidence and Partnership Project (see Confluence 12, p 15) will be presented to the DEFRA Chief Scientist Professor Bob Watson in November and earlier in the summer Richard Benyon MP met with executives of South West Water, Westcountry Rivers Trust, the Association of Rivers Trusts and local farmers at Bicton College in Devon. The aim of the meeting was to develop greater understanding of the collaborative work between organisations and landowners on river catchment projects in the South West.     The DEFRA Minister spoke with farm managers, Paul Redmore from the Bicton Estate and George Perrott of Clinton Devon Estates, who are participating in the Upstream Thinking initiative developed by South West Water, the Westcountry Rivers Trust and their partners. The Upstream Thinking initiative aims to improve raw water quality and all ecological aspects of the region’s rivers. It is a fundamental change in how water resources are managed in the UK. ‘South West Water is keen to work closely with DEFRA to achieve  common goals and strengthen relationships. The Upstream Thinking  initiative will improve water quality and should help to reduce the cost  of water treatment before supply.’   Chris Loughlin, Chief Executive, South West Water   An autumn morning in the Cornish countryside  Ministerial meeting (L‐R: Martin Ross, Chris Loughlin,  Richard Benyon, Dylan Bright and Arlin Rickard. 
  • 5.   TRUST NEWS  Rare sightings more than just fishy tales OUR WORK TO REMOVE OBSTACLES TO FISH MIGRATION AND IMPROVE WATER QUALITY IN WESTCOUNTRY RIVERS HAS HAD  THE SUREST INDICATION OF SUCCESS SO FAR.   First, in July 2011 a pair of sea lamprey were sighted and filmed spawning upstream of the new fish friendly boulder ramp, built to replace the now disused ‘Head Weir’ on the River Taw in Devon. The cavorting Lamprey were spotted and filmed by local fishermen, Maurice Dyer and Jon Jonik. Sea lamprey and Atlantic salmon are examples of fish species that breed in rivers, migrate to sea to grow into large adults and then return to the same rivers in which they were born, to breed again. These two species have very high conservation status, equivalent to some of the rarest birds and mammals in the UK, so it is fantastic to see such a tangible indication of the success of this conservation work. The prevalence of weir building during the industrial revolution to harness water‐power caused many rivers to become fragmented habitats for migratory species, greatly limiting their range and their abundance. Recent funding received from DEFRA via the Association of Rivers Trusts, targeted to deliver the EU Water Framework Directive, has facilitated a great deal of work to remove redundant obstacles in order to reconnect the river. The Head Weir Project, completed in October 2010, was the brain‐child of the River Taw Fishing Association and the Westcountry Rivers Trust, as part of the Taw Access over Weirs Project. The project was funded and delivered by these organisations in close collaboration with, and with huge support from, the Environment Agency. 5 “Removing obstacles to the natural migration of wildlife species is one of the  most important things we can do to give nature a helping hand. Until its recent  removal through this innovative community collaboration, the weir had  presented a major blockage to fish and other species wanting to migrate and  breed upstream.”   Arlin Rickard, CEO, The Rivers Trust Also in July this year, there was further excitement when increased numbers of the rare Allis Shad were again reported in the lower reaches of the River Tamar. Allis shad are migratory fish from the Herring family which were once present in our estuaries and rivers in huge numbers but which, in recent times, have become extremely rare in the UK. Now, thanks to significant improvements in water quality and reductions in the impact of netting in the estuary they appear to be returning to the rivers of the South West. New genetic analyses are tipping the scales  The Westcountry Rivers Trust is working with academics at the University of Exeter through our Atlantic Aquatic Resource Conservation Project (AARC) to study the genetics of our resident Brown and migratory Sea Trout. The aim of the work is to inform the management of their stocks in southern Britain. Our ultimate aim is to improve our understanding of the marine phase of the Sea Trout life cycle. Throughout the Westcountry and beyond, anglers and Environment Agency sampling teams who have caught brown and sea trout have taken a small scale sample and posted it back to us in a special envelope. These scales are then sent to Exeter where DNA analysis can tell us about the health of the fish stocks in the river system and how the different populations are related to each other. For more information email Bruce Stockley on bruce@wrt.org.uk Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) 
  • 6.   FISHERIES MANAGEMENT  A FORMULA FOR FISHERIES IMPROVEMENT  OUR  FORMULA  FOR  FISHERIES  MANAGEMENT  HAS  DEVELOPED  OVER  THE  LAST  TWO  DECADES  AND  TODAY  FORMS  AN  ACTION‐ORIENTATED  APPROACH  THAT  IS  BASED  UPON  ANSWERING  THE  ESSENTIAL  QUESTIONS  THAT ARE USED TO DIRECT OUR WORKS ON RIVERS.  The Westcountry Rivers Trust’s approach to fisheries management has evolved through interaction with various individuals and agencies, both within the UK and beyond, but perhaps the greatest single influence has been that of Ronald Campbell from the Tweed Foundation. This action‐focused approach allows volunteer and professional organisations of various types and sizes, with a range of budgets, to take informed decisions that lead to both delivery on the ground as well as an increase in our collective knowledge. Looking at the flow diagram on the next page, the focus of our efforts is on the right‐hand side of the diagram ‐ the analysis, information and the questions themselves are all directed to the goal of knowing what is likely to be the most effective action we can take on the rivers. This systematic approach seeks to gather the essential data to make an informed decision as to what is the best action. It takes the view that the worst action we can take is no action, and that, provided the risks are low, we are better taking action based on imperfect data than waiting to get the whole in‐depth picture. This is the correct interpretation of the precautionary principle. In order to manage fish stocks WRT considers three basic questions: 1. How many fish populations are there in a  catchment?  2. What habitat is available for fish at  various stages of their life cycle?  3. What is the status of these populations at  the moment?   How many fish Populations are there?  This fundamental question has slowly come to the fore over the last few decades. Only recently has the genetic technology matured enough to answer this question in a reliable and affordable manner that can be applied on a catchment‐wide basis. It is very hard to   attempt to manage fish populations if it is not known how many of them are in a catchment. This is best demonstrated by the ‘weak population problem’ as described in Box 1 (right). Once we know the stock structure of the river we can manage it with much more confidence and effectiveness. For example we may realise that the weak stock can be restored by the removal of a barrier to migration and it might be worthwhile to prioritise that barrier removal over other activities. This is a clear case of seemingly complex genetic science leading to concrete action on the ground.       What habitat is available for fish at various  stages of their life cycle?  All fish species require a variety of different habitat types at different stages of their life cycle. However, the issue is of particular importance to migratory fish such as Salmon and Sea Trout as their life stages are many, and the habitats they use are hugely varied over their lifetime development. Every river is unique; it has different amounts and arrangements of pools, spawning gravels, riffles for fry and deeper habitat for parr. If we carry out rapid habitat walkover surveys (which can be conducted by Trust staff and also by trained volunteer groups) then we can build up a picture of the quirks of our river. Maybe it has lots of spawning gravel but this is mostly silted up and unusable, or perhaps there is plenty of spawning and fry habitat, but very little habitat suitable for the maturation of parr. Once we know this information our management actions can be well focused to achieve maximum impact with the resources we have available. What is the status of these populations at  the moment?  Substantial effort is already being made to monitor the status of fish populations on many rivers. This effort includes the use of fish counters, tagging studies, electro fishing, rod catches, log books etc. and much of this data is published by the Environment Agency to report nationally and internationally. Detailed examination of the ‘exploitation rate’ of a fishery, that is to say the proportion of the fish that are caught on a river, is of particular importance when trying to asses the health of the stock. We then take this data and combine it with our own, such as rapid semi‐quantitative electrofishing to assess the current state of the fish stocks. Realism  It is clear that we do not have conclusive answers to the three questions above for all our catchments (though we are getting close for Salmon on some of our catchments, e.g. the River Exe). It is therefore appealing to respond in the immortal phrase ‘more research is needed’. However, taking the approach 'the worst action is no action', that response is not an option for us. It would lead to us standing by whilst we monitor decline – most definitely not the approach of a Rivers Trust. Our constructive approach to this situation is to act simultaneously on all fronts (most importantly we will take the actions as described on the diagram overleaf) based on the best evidence we have whilst, simultaneously, we will gather and analyse the relevant information from the middle of the diagram to guide this action. As we take action, we are able to gather more information which promotes more and better‐focused action on the catchment. It is this learning cycle of action, information and analysis that is our formula for fisheries improvement. Genetic diversity is the anvil upon which natural selection         forges a species ability to cope with the future   6
  • 7.   FISHERIES MANAGEMENT  BOX 1 The ‘weak population’ problem   Imagine a river with three Salmon populations in it. They do not breed much with each other, but live next to each other in different tributaries of our imaginary river. The first population is made up of about 500 fish, the second population 450 fish and the third 30 fish. The third stock is our ‘weak population’. Now imagine that we set nets on the bottom of our river and each year we semi ‐randomly select returning fish from the different stocks. Normally this does not cause a problem, but, given enough time,   there may come a year when the third population is unlucky and a large proportion of its returning fish will be caught: worse still, it may be that many of the females from that population are caught. This random over fishing of the third population could easily be enough to tip it into terminal decline, and if we have not done our homework and found out that there are three populations there then we could easily make that stock extinct and never know it. You may be asking why do local populations matter? They matter because fish populations that are genetically different are likely to have adapted to their particular river or tributary, and so they represent a reservoir of ‘genetic diversity’ which acts as our insurance policy against risks in our changing world. Our imaginary third population may just be the one that contains the genes necessary for UK salmon to survive global warming – but we will never know this because it was wiped out by our lack of knowledge of the population structure of our rivers. Schematic showing how our formula for fisheries improvement integrates different monitoring  approaches to assess the condition of the fish stocks and then target and tailor our actions   
  • 8.   FISHERIES MANAGEMENT  NEW GENERATIONS ARE KEY ON THE EXE  THE RIVER EXE PROJECT IS A FANTASTIC EXAMPLE OF A GRASS‐ROOTS CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION INITI‐ ATIVE. NOW IN ITS SIXTH YEAR THE PROJECT CONTINUES TO GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH.   A joint initiative of the River Exe and Tributaries Association (RETA) and the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT), the River Exe Project has two aims: protecting, restoring and enhancing salmon habitat in the River Exe catchment, and educating children about river conservation to ensure that salmon in the Exe will be protected long into the future. The River Exe Salmon in the Classroom Project, with support from the Water Project, the Exmoor National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund and the River Exe and Tributaries Association, has just completed its third successful year. During the past three years, over 350 pupils from the primary schools of Exford, Cutcombe and Uplowman, along with those from Blundell’s Preparatory School and Dulverton Middle School have been involved in the project. As an introduction to rivers and wildlife, the children investigate the water quality of their local river where their salmon will be released by looking at the invertebrates living there. Our ‘River Detectives’ have been delighted to find that the water quality is very good, as shown by the abundant numbers of species such as stonefly and mayfly, which are known to be very intolerant of organic pollution. Satisfied that the river is in good condition, the children then eagerly await the arrival of their own salmon eggs which, having grown to the ‘eyed stage’, are soon ready to be transported from the Exebridge hatchery. Just weeks after their arrival the eggs hatch and 3‐4 weeks later they emerge as swim‐up fry ready to be released into the rivers Haddeo and Lowman at Easter time.
  • 9.   Late Season has more appeal Having said this, while the salmon and sea trout were all but absent from the upper reaches of most rivers this summer, there have still been some very good catches of trout taken by stealthy fisherman. With the riffles and pools reduced to very low flows the fish were very easy to spook, but with a careful approach using small flies and light tippets the fish were catchable. One great example of the success of a light‐touch approach is Ben Garnett who took and returned a sea trout of 3lb and over twenty trout in just one July afternoon on the lower reaches of the River Lynher. Another is Mr Tyzack who enjoyed a scorching hot July day, taking over twenty five trout from the South Yeo. Perhaps the most fish were caught using the ‘New Zealand’ style, a simple but very effective method that involves presenting two flies, a dry fly and a nymph, on the same leader. Although fishing has been tough over the summer, there have been some fantastic reports of wildlife including otters, kingfisher and deer with people generally enjoying spending time on the beats. As someone once said, ‘there is more to fishing than catching fish’. One fisherman even commented that his day fishing on Dartmoor was one of his best all round fishing experiences ever! So after an early summer dominated by low flow conditions, the beginning of August saw the arrival of some more rain and by the time of writing in September, following a prolonged wet spell at the start of the month, we began to see the first signs of salmon and sea trout arriving in the Westcountry’s rivers with a grilse of 4lb and two peal of 1.25lb and 1.5lb caught at Sydenham on the 7th September. 9 In addition to educating our next generation about salmon, the Exe Project has worked with the Environment Agency and its other partners to deliver a huge amount of survey and restoration work this year. In August the Trust completed their fisheries habitat walkover survey of the River Barle between Withypool and Dulverton, which gave us vital and detailed evidence to target and inform our restoration activities. In addition, our electrofishing surveys in 2010 and 2011 have shown good numbers of salmon fry in many parts of the Upper Exe catchment. Trout also showed an improvement with good numbers found in the upper reaches of the rivers and streams surveyed. Salmon parr  After a very warm and dry spring, early summer was just as dry on the Westcountry’s rivers, with fishermen, farmers and gardeners all praying for rain for much of May, June and July. There were some small spates during the summer months, but they went down so quickly the fishing did not really benefit.
  • 10.   Over For more information on the Head Weir project please contact info@wrt.org.uk smooth‐reason for there being a weir on the site). 10 Derrick has been a loyal supporter of the Westcountry Angling Passport scheme and its concept for many years so when he told us of his plans we thought it was a brilliant idea. To show our appreciation of his endeavour WRT invited him to finish his trip with a pasty and a beer at our office in the Tamar valley. The following is Derrick’s own story of his three‐day trip which began at his house near South Molton in Devon. FISHERIES MANAGEMENT  GET ON YOUR BIKE   GO FISHING  WHEN DERRICK JONES, AVID FLY FISHERMAN, CASTING INSTRUCTOR   LOCAL GUIDE, CONTACTED THE TRUST  TO SAY HE WAS GOING TO SPEND A FEW DAYS FISHING OUR PASSPORT BEATS WE DIDN’T THINK IT UNUSUAL.  WHAT WE DIDN’T KNOW WAS THAT HE WOULD BE RIDING A HEAVILY LADEN BIKE   CAMPING IN A BIVVY!   Keeping abreast of the news in the papers or on our televisions at the moment, it is very easy to become depressed. A faltering economy, ever increasing fuel costs, in fact ever increasing costs for just about everything. It is enough to make you want a holiday, preferably a fishing holiday. And there’s the catch, your average fishing break is costing more these days. So at times like this it pays to be a little more imaginative when you sit down to plan your next escape. With this in mind, this summer I sat down with the Westcountry Angling Passport beat brochure and a road atlas to plan this year’s fishing holiday. The Angling Passport scheme offers fantastically varied fishing throughout Devon and Cornwall at a very reasonable price and I spent an enjoyable evening perusing the brochure and selecting five interesting looking beats to investigate. These beats are linked by a network of B roads and tiny country lanes, through the heart of the beautiful Devon countryside and what better way can there be to explore this wonderful environment than on a bicycle? With the route planned and the time off secured all that remained was to buy my Westcountry Angling Passport tokens and work out how to attach two rods, chest waders, tent, sleeping bag and 5 days‐worth of food to my trusty bike. I set off in early July to cycle over 150 miles through Devon and Cornwall in just five days, fishing a different river each day. As my journey unfolded, what really surprised me was the variety of fishing that can be found within a relatively small distance. On the River Culm in Devon (number 2 on the map), the Champerhaies beat is a low lying river running through rich pasture, where you have a chance of dace, roach, chub and even pike in addition to the ever‐present brown trout. The trout in the Culm are bright silver with buttery yellow bellies and grow well in their relatively rich ecosystem. In stark contrast to the Culm, the Cherrybrook is a tiny upland stream on the very top of Dartmoor (number 7 on the map) where I fished for small, but feisty trout stained dark to suit the peaty environment they inhabit. Another very different experience was fishing the Map showing  Derrick’s 150 mile  route across the  Westcountry 
  • 11.   11 Further Information  When not working full time for HM Coastguard, Derrick runs Adventure Fly Fishing UK; a company that offers fly casting tuition and guiding throughout the country with an emphasis on giving people adventurous fishing experiences. To find out more about Derrick’s fly fishing adventures visit his website at www.adventureflyfishinguk.co.uk. To find out more about the Westcountry Angling Passport scheme visit ‐ www.westcountryangling.com. The Westcountry Rivers Trust’s Angling Passport is part of Country Sports South West Project, which aims to promote all country sport activities and holidays across South West England through its new website ‐ www.countrysportssouthwest.co.uk. crystal clear water of the beautiful River Inny which dances over the river’s rocky bed. Here you can find grayling in addition to the trout and, in response to freshwater, there is always the chance that a salmon or sea trout could be encountered. It really was an eye opener just how the nature of these rivers varied and also therefore the fishing. I caught trout on a deeply fished nymph on the Culm, on a tiny aphid imitating dry fly on the Little Dart, on a streamer on the River Torridge ahead of the arrival of a large spate, on a big black dry fly flicked ahead of me on the Cherrybrook and on New Zealand rig tactics on the Inny. Having described the differences between these rivers, it should be said that there were many similarities as well. All five rivers looked to be in rudest of health. I saw kingfishers, often considered to be a good barometer for the health of a river system, on four of the five rivers, including watching one on the River Culm catch a fish and return to its perch to eat it, from just a few feet away. I also encountered foxes, roe deer, buzzards and dippers whilst fishing and enjoyed some stunning views, glorious sunsets and tumultuous weather. So, after five days on the road, I finished my trip with a pasty and a pint with the staff of the Westcountry Rivers Trust before spending a final few hours down along the River Inny. I returned from my holiday feeling refreshed (ok, apart from my tired legs) and suitably virtuous. I had enjoyed a fantastic fishing holiday and yet spent very little money. I had burnt very little carbon, but a fair few calories and, in fishing Westcountry Angling Passport beats, I have helped the Westcountry Rivers Trust in their work to preserve and enhance the very environment that I had enjoyed so much. So next time you are looking for a great holiday, why not plan your very own Westcountry Rivers fishing tour? The Westcountry Rivers Trust retains its passionate belief  that our rivers are a wonderful natural resource that  should be protected and managed for the benefit of  everyone. By working with angling associations, wildlife  groups and farmers to improve the river corridor, while at  the same time helping land‐owners and river owners  market their fishing, we believe that we have developed a  fisheries management scheme that both improves our  rivers health and gives people an affordable and pleasant  way to enjoy them.    M. Szczepanek 
  • 12.   CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT  OUR CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT APPROACH  IT IS CLEAR THAT IF, AS A SOCIETY, WE WANT TO GET THE MOST FROM OUR NATURAL LANDSCAPES AND BENE‐ FIT FROM ALL OF THE SERVICES THEY CAN PROVIDE, WE MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE USE THE LAND SO THAT  ALL OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ECOSYSTEMS ARE PROTECTED.  The population of Britain, driven by our great agricultural and industrial revolutions, has exploded from just 10 million in 1800 to nearly 60 million today and, while there can be little doubt that the huge improvements we have seen in our healthcare and living standards have offered us a wonderful opportunity to enjoy ever longer and more fruitful lives, we now know that this period of relative prosperity has come to us at a great cost. In achieving all that we have, it is now clear that we have done so at the expense of our natural environment and the resources it provides. As our numbers have swelled we have demanded ever more food, fuel and water from our environment and yet we have done almost nothing to protect the ecosystems that provide these services. We rely on our natural landscapes to provide for and protect us (and they are a vital part of our heritage, our culture and our daily lives), but we have ravaged them without a thought for what damage we are doing. In recent decades we have, with varying degrees of success, adopted a number of different approaches to the restoration and conservation of our increasingly degraded natural environments. Regulation is the process by which Government agencies enforce national and European legislation developed to protect the environment from damaging human impacts. Regulation, often referred to as the ‘polluter pays’ principle, is a vital tool for the protection of the environment and has achieved huge success in reducing the occurrence of severe pollution and other damage being done to our natural ecosystems. This approach has, however, proved to be less effective in mitigating the effects of diffuse, chronic pollution or other impacts that cause the slow degradation of natural ecosystems. The traditional conservation approach, sometimes referred to as ‘fortress conservation’, is where important habitats are protected by being designated as sites important for the conservation of nature. Such designations are given legal protection under European, national or local law and targets are set to ensure that they are not destroyed or degraded. There can be little doubt that the land acquisition and designation approach to nature conservation has created safe havens for many of our rarest species and their habitats, but it is a very expensive approach and it appears to have achieved little in protecting natural ecosystems across the wider landscape. Community conservation is where farmers are empowered to exploit natural resources in a more sustainable way. For example, if farmers can be made aware of the economic benefits they could achieve by changing their agricultural practices to reduce their impacts on natural ecosystems, they are usually more inclined to do it. Something as simple as creating a nutrient management plan will ensure that the farmer’s valuable nutrients are taken up by their crop and are not lost into the river. The community conservation approach has been shown to yield catchment‐scale improvements in ecosystem health, but its costs and benefits can be undermined by fluctuations in global markets and there is limited incentive to invest in expensive farm infrastructure. Perhaps the most commonly used approach to environmental protection in the wider landscape is currently incentivisation. This is where farmers are incentivised to alter their farming practices or invest in farm infrastructure by the people who benefit from improvements in ecosystem function. This approach, known as the ‘provider is paid principle’, is currently undertaken largely by the government for the benefit of society as a whole, but, while this approach can achieve dramatic catchment‐scale impacts on ecosystem function, to be universally successful it will require a joined‐up vision for catchment management in the future. In particular, if we want private companies to invest in catchment management on behalf of their customers we will need to build clear cases that include accurate indications of the cost and benefit implications for them. 12
  • 13.   Catchment Area Partnerships  Delivering the needs of society through better catchment management is not only the responsibility of the public sector but also the private and third sector. The Westcountry Rivers Trust believes that all groups actively involved in regulation, land management, scientific research or wildlife conservation in a catchment area should be drawn together with landowners and other interest groups to form a catchment management partnership. This partnership, which will include a mixture of public, private and third sector groups, will then be responsible for coordinating the planning, funding and delivery of good ecological health for that river and its catchment. The Environment Minister Richard Benyon MP has recently announced that the Government is also committed to adopting a more catchment‐based approach to sharing information, working together and coordinating the efforts to protect England’s water environment. Following this announcement, DEFRA have begun working with the Environment Agency to explore improved ways of engaging with people and organisations that can make a real difference to the health of our rivers, lakes and streams. In the summer of 2011 the Environment Agency launched a new initiative that will test the catchment partnership approach in ten "pilot" catchments. Alongside these ten EA‐ led pilots they would like fifteen more pilot catchments to be established that will be hosted by other organisations. The Westcountry Rivers Trust has put their name into the hat to host some catchments in the Westcountry as it already has strong links with many of the major groups that effect, or are affected by, how land is managed. CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT  The Catchment Management team of the Westcountry Rivers Trust is dedicated to improving ecosystem function by forging a shared vision for our catchments that allows funding to be acquired from multiple sources that gain from changes in management and then spent locally to deliver this vision. To do this our work is split into four key areas. (1) Investigation. Using the latest modelling, surveying and mapping techniques we assess river condition, identify threats to ecosystem health and create integrated catchment management plans. (2) Justification. We use the evidence we collect to convince farmers of their potential role in ecosystem management and of the benefits to them of being involved. We also use our data and evidence to engage potential funders of catchment restoration. (3) Delivery. We deliver a suite of targeted catchment management interventions (in an evidence‐led way) to achieve the best possible environmental and economic benefits for all of the interested parties. (4) Education. We must communicate the work we do to the public. We do this through educational events, such as public talks, agricultural workshops, school visits and university courses, and through a series of Trust publications and websites. Map showing the  catchment of the  River Tamar and  it’s tributaries  13
  • 14.   An ecosystem is formed by a community of animals, plants and micro‐organisms interacting with themselves and the physical environment in which they live. Within a functional ecosystem the community of living organisms exists in a finely balanced equilibrium of life and death, with each forming a key component of the food web and living in an environment in which the physical elements, such as water, nutrients and other chemicals, are constantly cycling and shifting around (and through) them. As just one organism in the natural ecosystems that surround us, we also rely on them to provide us with a wide array of the things we need to survive. These benefits, which we call ecosystem services, include the provision of the food we eat, flood protection, sufficient clean water, habitats for wildlife, spaces for recreation, clean air and the storage of our greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, as our population has grown over the centuries we SPECIAL FEATURE  ECOSYSTEMS SERVICE OUR EVERY NEED  have become increasingly disconnected from natural ecosystems and the services they provide. Since the people of Britain first began to migrate into towns and cities, for example, we have largely stopped growing our own food and increasingly relied on farmers to exploit our natural ecosystems for us and to produce the food we need to sustain us. They bring their produce into the market places and shops and we pay them for the provision of this vital service. The potential problem with this system is that, as the demand for food grows, our natural ecosystems are being put under ever greater pressure to produce food. In addition, while farming can be lucrative if the global market is strong, at present farmers are having to put more and more of their land into ever higher intensity agriculture to make ends meet. Over the last 20 years there has been a growing recognition that the ecosystem services approach has huge potential for the effective
  • 15.   Balancing the provision of ecosystem service provision  targeting, funding and delivery of environmental restoration and protection. In 2000 the United Nations Secretary‐General Kofi Annan called for the global consequences of ecosystem change for human well‐being to be assessed and in 2001 the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) project was initiated. The project, which incorporated the scientific research of more than 1,300 experts worldwide, was designed to provide a complete appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide. It also assessed the options available to us to restore, conserve or enhance the sustainable use of these ecosystems. The MEA, which has now been followed by a National Ecosystem Assessment in the UK, divides ecosystem services into four groups ‐ Supporting services:  services for the production of other ecosystem services; soil formation, photosynthesis, primary production, nutrient cycling and water cycling. Provisioning services:  products obtained from ecosystems; including food, fibre, fuel, genetic resources, biochemicals, natural medicines, pharmaceuticals and fresh water. Regulating services:  benefits from the regulation of ecosystem processes; including air quality and climate regulation, water resources management, erosion reduction, water purification, disease prevention, pest control and pollination. Cultural services:  the non‐material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation and aesthetics. In this special feature on ecosystem services we summarise some  of the key ecosystem services provided by our river catchments  and the approaches we can use to improve them through  integrated catchment management.  The ecosystem services provided by a river catchment exist in a delicate balance; some are complementary and others antagonistic. If the provision of some services become dominant then the river system can lose its ability to provide others. The key is to find the right balance...
  • 16.   Ecosystems Service our Every Need Payments for Ecosystem Services  At present, farmers, who represent less than 1% of our society, currently manage nearly 80% of our countryside and are responsible for the health of the ecosystems it supports. However, despite this key role for farmers in managing our natural ecosystems, they are currently only paid for the provision of one ecosystem service; food production. So how do we ensure that the ecosystems in our landscape are still able to produce the food we need and farmers are able to have sustainable and profitable businesses, but in a way that is not detrimental to the other services ecosystems provide? The first thing we need is for farmers to reduce the intensity at which they farm the parts of their land that play a key role in the delivery of other ecosystem services. Unfortunately, the implication for the farmer of this ‘extensification’ will be a reduction in the amount of food they produce and their business will be damaged. We therefore believe farmers should, in addition to being paid for the food they produce, be paid for undertaking sympathetic, extensive farming in areas where they have agreed to reduce their productivity for the benefit of other services provided by the environment. Effectively they should be paid for farming natural resources instead of food on some sections of their land. The big question this raises is; if farmers are to be paid for farming natural resources, who should pay for this service? Where are the markets in which these products are sold? Well, the answer is that there are people, communities and organisations that benefit from these other environmental, or ecosystem, services. Everyone who needs clean water to drink and bathe in has an interest in protecting the water in our rivers. Fishermen, canoeists, ramblers and bird watchers – all want to enjoy rich and healthy environments where wildlife thrives in beautiful surroundings. We believe that these people, who already pay a huge price when our rivers are damaged and degraded, should instead be the ones who help to protect them in the first place – by supporting farmers who are willing to change the way they use their land. This principle, if the market can be realised, is termed the Payments for Ecosystem Services approach to natural environment protection. If we can persuade those who benefit from the maintenance of healthy, productive ecosystems across our landscape that they should support the people who are responsible for their upkeep, then (and only then) will we be able to create a more sustainable environment, locally and globally, that will continue to support and provide for us long into the future. There are examples of PES schemes, including the Westcountry Rivers Trust’s very own Upstream Thinking initiative with South West Water, that are already working to enhance ecosystem services provision in the UK. There are however, some key challenges that remain to be overcome if we are to see more such schemes developing over the coming years. First, the schemes must be voluntary and the market should be built upon trust between the seller, the buyer and an ethical broker. Second, it is vital that the land delivering multiple ecosystem services can be effectively identified and that evidence of the quantity and quality of the services provided can be collected and reported to the buyers. Finally, the administrative cost of running the scheme, both in setting up contracts and policing of delivery, must not be prohibitive. SPECIAL FEATURE  Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) need clean water   Image: Andreas Trepte   Image: Small Ritual  
  • 17.   SPECIAL FEATURE  Fresh water & water regulation Rain falling on the land brings life to the plants and animals living upon it, but it also collects and runs across the land forming rills, gullies, streams and ultimately rivers. The transfer of fresh water onto and then across the land is one of the fundamental processes that sustain life on Earth. All of us depend on the fresh clean water in our rivers and streams every day – we drink it, we bathe in it and it sustains other life on which we depend for food and enjoyment. Fresh water brings life to our landscape, but when the land is in poor condition, when it is suffering because it is being exploited too intensively, moving water can wreak untold damage upon it. Soil, organic material and other pollutants on the land are too easily transported into streams and rivers, polluting the water and suffocating the life that it supports. In addition to the role that the land plays in detoxifying and filtering water, natural ecosystems also play a key role in regulating the rate at which water is released from the land and into rivers and streams. If water is not held on the land and in the soil for very long then it not only accumulates in rivers too rapidly at first, which can cause flooding lower down the catchment, but it also passes through the river system too quickly resulting in ecologically damaging drought during periods of low rainfall. To help us identify key areas of land that play a vital role in the purification and regulation of water in our rivers, we can now use the latest digital mapping technology to visualise the way that water moves across a landscape and so identify areas where more intensive food production poses the least threat to the river and the life it sustains. The technology also allows us to identify areas where over‐exploitation of the land could leave it vulnerable to damage and where rivers might therefore be vulnerable to contamination or extreme flow levels. With these so called ‘high risk’ areas identified we can then work with the farmers to change the way they use this land, so that any potential damage to the river is minimised. The provision of clean fresh water in our rivers, which is equally critical for the supply of our drinking water and the sustenance of our fisheries, shell fisheries and bathing waters, is a service that is fairly easy to value. Likewise the economic and human cost of flooding or drought can also be quantified and, taken together, this means that we can create a market in which the beneficiaries of these services make a financial contribution towards catchment management. By paying for agricultural extensification and improved land‐use practice in the catchment, funders could save huge amounts of expense in the future. 
  • 18.   SPECIAL FEATURE  Provision of habitats & ecological networks The living organisms that live in an ecosystem are also a critical component of it, playing key roles in the cycling of nutrients and other elements through the system. The presence of rich and abundant wildlife in an ecosystem can be a good indication that it is in good health and it may also suggest that the ecosystem is providing other services as well. For example, where there is an abundance of insect life, it is highly likely that flowers and crops are well pollinated. Likewise, a soil with high levels of biodiversity in it is more likely to be a productive and healthy medium for growing crops and recycling nutrients. Having a rich variety of life in the natural ecosystems in which we live is also hugely important for us; interacting with rich and diverse natural habitats has been shown to culturally enrich our lives and improve our psychological and physical well‐being. In light of this vital role for natural habitats and the wildlife they support in ecosystem function and in the provision of other ecosystem services, it is vitally important for all of us that our natural ecosystems contain sufficient interconnected habitat areas in which wildlife, or biodiversity, can thrive. A web of natural habitats that supports healthy populations of all our wildlife species in an ecosystem is called an ecological network. In a recent government report Professor John Lawton concluded that our existing protected wildlife conservation sites do not represent a ‘coherent and resilient ecological network’. He believes that we must find a way to integrate the provision of connected natural habitats into the management of our natural landscapes. At the Westcountry Rivers Trust we believe that the Payments for Ecosystem Services approach to river catchment management, with funding coming from a wide array of potential beneficiaries, is the best way to deliver the ecological networks we need to put in place. The other advantage of the PES approach is that catchment management work undertaken to improve the delivery of other ecosystem services, such as water quality improvements, will in many cases create habitat and corridors for wildlife as a by‐product. 18 Sundew in a wetland. Image: Hazel Kendall 
  • 19.   SPECIAL FEATURE  Regulation of greenhouse gases   The level of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in our atmosphere is regulated through the opposing effects of their capture and sequestration during biological processes and their subsequent release when the resulting biological material is broken down or destroyed. The plants and soils of natural habitats, such as woodlands, peat bogs and other wetlands, play a key role in capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It is estimated that peat bogs alone in the UK could be storing carbon equivalent to all of our emissions from industry for 20 years. In addition, although the plants in agricultural landscapes contribute little to greenhouse gas sequestration, the soil in farmland does play a key role in storing carbon and other greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, if agricultural land or natural habitats become damaged then the greenhouse gases they hold can be lost to the atmosphere. Wetlands are particularly vulnerable to drying, erosion and, in the case of peat bogs, over‐harvesting of the peat itself for use as fuel or as compost. The intensification of agricultural practices can also lead to the increased emission of greenhouse gases from the soil and some practices, such as mechanical farming, high density livestock farming and the use of agro‐ chemicals, can themselves cause the emission of greenhouse gases. In the UK we have lost a large proportion of our woodland and wetland habitats, but we can still identify large areas of our landscape which, due to their terrain and their predisposition to being wet, could easily be reverted to wetland or woodland habitat and so become sinks for greenhouse gases. We can also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from intensively farmed agricultural land, by encouraging farmers to farm more sustainably and sympathetically in certain areas where the land, if damaged, is vulnerable to degradation and greenhouse gas loss. The key to developing this as a Payments for Ecosystem Services initiative is first to gain a good understanding of how much sequestration might be achieved using this approach. Once we can quantify delivery of the service, then we can begin to market it to groups or companies with an interest in off‐setting their carbon emissions.   19 Honey bee  Pyramidal orchids  Leaf litter in an ancient woodland 
  • 20.   SPECIAL FEATURE  Culture, recreation & tourism Healthy natural ecosystems in both rural and urban environments provide somewhere for people to engage in recreation, tourism and social activities. Access to natural environments also plays a central role in the cultural, economic and social enhancement of our communities and the enrichment of our lives as individuals. Numerous scientific studies have now shown that interacting with, and spending time in, the natural world actually enhances our quality of life, improves our emotional well‐being, reduces stress and improves our health. Recreational and cultural activities that are dependent on healthy and beautiful natural environments include; surfing and swimming in the sea, boating and kayaking, walking, bird‐ watching and natural history, fishing, art and photography. All of these pursuits take people out into the natural environment and allow them to enjoy the benefits it can give them. For organisations interested in the restoration and conservation of natural ecosystems it is important to recognise that many of these recreation and leisure pursuits are greatly valued by the people that undertake them and that this value can be quantified. As a result of this, each activity therefore has the potential for the development of Payments for Ecosystem Services markets and therefore has the potential to develop funds for river catchment management. A fantastic example of this process, that has already been shown to be effective as a method for promoting recreation and improving rivers, is the Rivers Trusts’ Angling Passport Scheme. By working with farmers and land‐owners to help them market their fishing we have created a PES scheme where the beneficiaries of the healthy ecosystem, the fishermen, make payments directly to the people who are providing that service; the land managers. Another project that the Westcountry Rivers Trust are working on, in partnership with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), is the Country Sports South West Project, which is aimed at bringing together and developing the region’s wealth of country sport activities. While this PES mechanism for funding river restoration is undoubtedly a valid one, there are a number of major challenges that we face when trying to set up markets for recreation, tourism and cultural activities. First, there is the issue of access: the public are unlikely to be willing to pay for a service to which they have limited access due to location or price. We must work to overcome barriers to access if the market is to be developed for the benefit of all. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, is the difficulty we have in placing an economic value on the often intangible cultural, spiritual and aesthetic benefits provided by this type of ecosystem service. People tend to understand that we would all be worse off if these services were no longer being provided, but they are less likely to be willing to pay for them if they cannot see the immediate demonstrable benefits to themselves. 20 Birdwatchers  Image: Hey Mr Glen   Kayaks  Image: Steve Richie   Beautiful summer river 
  • 21.   Like a well‐used muscle the river courses through the valley                 which is my home. In summer, you can see the knots and                      sinews of its course: twenty long pools and perhaps twice that          number of runs, riffles, glides and island streams that subtly change from year to            year.  Gravel banks and islands form and shift sprouting little forests of willow, birch               and alder with garlands left by winter floods streaming from their branches.   BY RAY GORDON FROM THE RIVER  Throughout the long summer days goosander, merganser and cormorant patrol the shallow riffles and faster streams. Tern, black headed gull, kingfisher, martins, swifts and osprey quarter the surface. Mallard families, coot, dipper, wagtails and heron stalk the edges and eddies. At dusk, the night shift resumes its vigil. Bats, owl and otter appear and disappear into the darkness. The insects appear and vanish in their ephemeral way. Mayflies, sedge, stonefly and midge make an appearance when it suits at their allotted times, which vary with the weather and season. At such times they distract the birds from their aquatic quarry. It is on these occasions, if the sun is not too bright or the wind or water not too cool, that the river’s indigenous creatures rise to the surface and reveal themselves to us. Trout, salmon parr and grayling dimple the smoother glides with their nebs, splash their tails as they dive with a tasty morsel, roll up their dorsal fins or, for reasons best known to  themselves, leap clear of their element and plop back leaving an enigmatic ring of ripples. The trout is perhaps the most prolific species that spends its entire life within the river. It needs to survive to sexual maturity by escaping predators and finding or following food sources throughout the seasons. It is then driven to spawn, perhaps not every year thereafter but at least several times. On each occasion it will deplete its flesh and require considerable effort to regain condition. As it grows older, bigger and more solitary its diet may change to include the infants of its own and other species. Someone once said, a long time ago, “Where there is trout you will find beauty”. On this river , in the presence of trout there is certainly beauty: in the fragility of the ephemeral olives, the grace of the swift, the flash of the kingfisher, the quietness of the heron, the dance of the dipper, the sleek surprise of the otter; the sublime outline of the hills, the lush verdant slopes of mixed woodland, riparian primroses, foxgloves, wild garlic; the ever changing  light and darkness, hiding and revealing aspects of beauty in a kaleidoscope of colour and shade as the day and the year turns from the steely grey‐blue of winter to the riot of spring colours, through the variegated summer to the burnished bronze of autumn. And through all of this beauty, ceaselessly, urgently, restlessly, the river’s sinews stretch and pulse, reflecting all the life and beauty by day and by night. Even in the monochrome darkness revealing an infinite variety of ever changing quicksilver patterns punctuated by trout launching themselves into the moonlight or moon‐ shadows and disappearing into their own golden brown, butter yellow, crimson speckled beauty safe, for a while, in the sinews of the river.  
  • 22.   FUNDRAISING NEWS  Thanks to our supporters and funders WE  WOULD  LIKE  TO  SAY  A  HUGE  THANK‐YOU  TO  ALL  OF  OUR  SUPPORTERS  AND  FUNDERS  ‐  WITHOUT  YOUR  SUPPORT  WE  WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ENHANCE THE HEALTH AND NATURAL VALUE OF OUR RIVERS AND RIVER CATCHMENTS.  22 Fund will endow bright future onWestcountry rivers THE  WESTCOUNTRY  RIVERS  TRUST’S  NEW  RIVER  ENDOWMENT  FUND  IS  AIMED  AT  SECURING  THE  FINANCIAL  FOUNDATIONS  OF  THE  TRUST  AND  THEREFORE  WILL  ALSO  ENSURE  THE  PROTECTION  OF  THE  WESTCOUNTRY’S  RIVERS  LONG INTO THE FUTURE.  The Westcountry Rivers Trust has clear objectives to protect in perpetuity our rivers and landscapes from exploitation and piecemeal environmental policies, and the long term financial resources of Trust are fundamental to achieving this vision. The Trust already makes maximum use of grant funding from government agencies, water companies and the European Union to augment the donations from Trust supporters, but these do not provide the long‐term financial stability we need to achieve our goals. To address this, the Trustees have now established a Rivers Endowment Fund, which aims to provide this security for our work to continue regardless of the vagaries of external funding. The Trustees hope that over a number of years the Fund will grow to be a major force in the region to protect our rivers and landscapes permanently. Where will the money come from?  The Fund will seek donations and legacies from people who may already be supporters of the rivers trust movement. They are probably people who have strong links with salmon and trout fishing and have long held concerns about the impact of climate change and farming practice on water quality, fish stocks and migration patterns. These concerns are likely to be linked to particular rivers, favourite fishing beats, fishing rights and riparian ownership. The Fund will also appeal to people who identify closely with a landscape or habitat which they know and love and who wish to see the rivers which flow through it protected. The Fund is also seeking gifts that are non‐financial, such as property or fishing rights. What will the Fund be invested in?  Funds donated to the Westcountry Rivers Trust Endowment Fund will be held in catchment specific restricted funds and the interest accrued will be used to fund river restoration and catchment management activities in that catchment. The investment proceeds from the fund will be used to support projects that make a significant difference to water quality and the life in and around our rivers or a section of a river. Projects might be specific, for example, installing fish passes, preventing silt and run off, cleaning redds or releasing new stock. Projects with more general benefits might include permanent funding of a warden who can work with other interest groups to protect the river and advise on land management practices. When a river fund reaches £100,000 it may generate around £5,000 per year to spend on the river. This income could be used to ‐  fence and stabilise several short sections of river bank: £100 each.   restore fish breeding grounds and improve habitats for wildlife in  the river corridor: £5,000.  When a river fund reaches £1,000,000 it may generate around £50,000 per year to spend on the river. This income in a catchment could be used to ‐  fund a part time river warden for several years: £20,000 p.a.   undertake a biological and chemical monitoring programme:  £20,000.   remove weir and install a fish pass: £50,000 ‐ £100,000.   If you would like to obtain further information about the Trust’s River Endowment Fund please contact the Trust office on 01579  372140 or email info@wrt.org.uk to obtain an information pack.
  • 23.   WRT DIGITAL  Data & mapping: helping us to put rivers in their place  23 Maps have always been a powerful and vital communication tool for ecologists and conservation practitioners. Whether engaged in scientific research, monitoring species and habitats, influencing policy makers or engaging the public, clear and easy to understand maps can really help to get a conservation message across. In recent years, the pressure on local authorities, government agencies and conservation organisations to make the most efficient and effective use of the limited resources available for conservation has grown significantly. Indeed, huge emphasis is now placed on the use of spatial data and geographic information in evidence‐based policy and decision making and few fields have experienced as dramatic an expansion in the use of geographic information as the ecology and conservation sectors. Spatial data and geographic information differ from traditional data and evidence in the fact that they have the added element of location or place associated with them. Spatial data is created, managed, presented and analysed using a Geographic Information System (GIS). A GIS is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analysing and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. By breaking the real world down into a series of layers a GIS allows the user to analyse data visually and see patterns, trends and relationships that might not be visible in tabular or written form. A GIS is a powerful tool for presenting data in maps, but perhaps its greatest power is that it can be used to model spatial relationships and answer questions about how things relate spatially to each other in the real world. This type of question is known as a spatial query and the method for studying spatial relationships is termed spatial analysis. Spatial analysis can range from the measurement of distances or areas right through to the analysis of river networks, or the modelling of species populations or habitat restoration opportunities. Conservation organisations are now increasingly looking to use spatial evidence to inform both their work and their landscape‐level conservation strategy development. To develop a comprehensive and robust spatial evidence‐base, conservation organisations need to acquire the latest mapping technologies and develop key skills in the creation and management of spatial data, the production of professional maps and the latest spatial analysis techniques. To help Rivers Trusts meet this need the Westcountry Rivers Trust have teamed up with the Rivers Trust and the University of Reading to develop a series of GIS training courses specifically tailored to the work of their staff. There will be more courses over the coming months, so please contact us if you would like to attend. Trust using film to spread vision At the Westcountry Rivers Trust we are always looking for new ways to share our vision for river conservation and this summer we have been working to create a number of short films about various aspects of our work. Films are a great way to communicate what you are doing and why to the public and partners alike. This is especially true now that videos can reach such large audiences on the internet, so keep an eye out for our films as they are released on our website and a number of other sites. Our new films include one for the Atlantic Aquatic Resources Conservation (AARC) Project, one on our work for the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) Programme, and one on ecosystem services for the new WATER Project website. The films represent just one part of our wider efforts to engage and educate people about the work of the Trust to protect and conserve the Westcountry’s wonderful rivers and their catchments.
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