a Thank you for inviting us to speak: The Natural Environment White Paper ‘The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature’ places the value of nature at the centre of the choices that must be made to: enhance our environment grow a green economy promote personal health and wellbeing provide leadership on environmental action internationally as well as in Europe. Although the White Paper will not lead to new legislation, it marks a significant change in direction for environmental policy in England and contains a large number of initiatives. There are also a large number of actions and new initiatives, which include: creating new Nature Improvement Areas to enhance nature on a significant scale establishing Local Nature Partnerships to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy natural environment and strengthen local action putting natural capital at the centre of economic thinking and at the heart of the way we measure economic progress nationally a new ‘Local Green Space’ designation allowing local people to protect the green areas that are important to them improving public access to information and advice about their environment supporting the development of green infrastructure in England. Our vision Ensuring society recognises the value of nature is key to creating better places. The Natural Choice provides a long term vision for this. We share this vision and look forward to working with others to make it a reality, making best use of available resources. We have had direct input to many aspects of the white paper, particularly those relating to the water environment and will play a significant role in delivering the reforms and associated actions. The scale of our involvement is not yet clear but we will keep you informed as we understand more. The White Paper drew upon the outcome of the Lawton Review 'Making Space for Nature' and evidence in the National Ecosystem Assessment . The Lawton Review found that nature in England is highly fragmented and unable to respond effectively to new pressures, such as climate and population change
The Natural Environment White Paper and the National Ecosystem Assessment are significant and important steps forward in protecting and enhancing the environment. They will undoubted shape Environment Agency decisions and action policy in the years to come. Our vision - Ensuring society recognises the value of nature is key to creating better places. The Natural Choice provides a long term vision for this. We share this vision and look forward to working with others to make it a reality, making best use of available resources. We have had direct input to many aspects of the white paper, particularly those relating to the water environment and will play a significant role in delivering the reforms and associated actions. The scale of our involvement is not yet clear but we will keep you informed as we understand more.
Champion for Sustainable Development – “A healthy, properly functioning natural environment is the foundation of sustained economic growth, prospering communities and personal wellbeing” (NEWP) . Lead for wetlands, rivers, floodplains and groundwaters– Nature is a complex, interconnected system. Rivers are the artery system of the landscape, influenced and shaped by geology and soils and thus land use and management. As wildlife corridors these habitats are key in reducing fragmentation and help us respond effectively to pressure such as climate change. Ecosystem services and multpile uses – Egs clean water, enough water for people and wildlife, Flood risk management, carbon storage Climate Change Adaptation - The Environment Agency is taking on a new role as the Government's delivery body in England to help organisations adapt to climate change. We will need to work with others to design a service that reflects what people need. Climate resilience is an important ecosystem service and intrinsic to the NEWP.
Ecosystem services South East figs: 75% of our water come from groundwater 4162 bn litres water abstracted from environment (South East Water website says it abstracts 565m litres of water a day from aquifers, rivers and surface resevoirs) Effluent Discharge - there are 607 sewage works discharging 13bn litres treated effluent per day Fisheries supports approximately 4,200 jobs and £100 million of household income in South East England. 400,000 rod licences were sold across South East in 2009/10 which generated £6.5 million.
Otters, The return of the otter is one of England's major conservation success stories of the last 30 years. During 2009-10 more than 3,300 sites were surveyed. Positive site records (those showing evidence of otters) have increased from 5.8% in the first survey of 1977-79 to an outstanding 58.8% this time Water quality has improved year on year for the last 20 years In 2008, 97 per cent of bathing waters in England and Wales met water quality standards, compared to 78 per cent in 1990. Water companies have invested heavily to deliver our National Environment Programme which has led to huge improvements in riverine, groundwater and marine water quality Much of this improvement has resulted from investment we orchestrated and targeted for the water industry. Over £650m of environmental improvements have been made, with £50m of the national Water Resources budget of £90m being allocated to Itchen habitats. Tighter regulation of polluting industries Habitat improvement projects Working with farmers, businesses and water companies to improve water quality Implementing European directives Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programme
Analysis of data for classification of the status of waterbodies through the Water Framework Directive has shown that while much progress has been made, there is still a lot to do. While the quality of our Freshwaters has been steadily increasing the River Basin Management Plans have raised the bar. Solent and South Downs Area contains 336 waterbodies in total. Of these 77% are currently at less than ‘good’ status. Just under a quarter (22%) of the SSD waterbodies are currently at Good Ecological Status (GES) with more than half of them (64%) at moderate and the remaining waterbodies at either poor (12%) or bad (2%) status. 40% of SSD waterbodies are classified as heavily modified and will be particularly challenging to improve. The main elements failing to attain GES are high phosphate concentrations and poor fish communities. The reasons for these failures are predominantly suspected point or diffuse pollution inputs and poor habitats. 17 waterbodies are predicted to attain GES by 2015. We are currently reviewing this figure with the aim to set our aspirations higher than we first set out in the River Basin Management Plan.
Delivering the WFD is one of our most important pieces of work over the next 15 years. River Basin Management Plans raise the bar and the actions required provide an opportunity for this generation – for people and organisations to work together to improve the quality of every aspect of the water environment. Not only chemical water quality but the hydro-morphology and ecological health of rivers, wetlands, groundwaters, esturaries and coasts. If we get this right this work should make a major contribution to improving the health of our water bodies for people and wildlife. The aim is to achieve good ecological status for all waters by 2027. Key objectives are to: prevent deterioration in the status of aquatic ecosystems, protect them and improve the ecological condition of waters promote the sustainable use of water Conserve habitats and species that depend directly on water Progressively reduce the impact of pollutants on aquatic environments including groundwaters. Help reduce the effect of floods and droughts. The WFD is a piece of the puzzle to help deliver integrated land management, ecological restoration zones It can be used as a vehicle for other for communication
DEFRA have asked for a more locally focused approach to planning, at catchment rather than River Basin District Level. Local action rather than RBMP Providing a more integrated land-use and water management Sensible approach as the catchment or watershed is a the key hydrological unit. Everything within the catchment is interconnected, land management and use influences the water environment Uses engagement to drive more solutions and debate what is needed and who could do it Seeks to deliver multiple benefits Fits with the ecosystem services approach Fits with the landscape approach – “ We want to promote an ambitious, integrated approach, creating a resilient ecological network across England - NEWP”.
This illustrates the flow through the catchment and how each water body impacts on the next. This was a visual map designed to help people understand the actions that are required throughout the catchment – particularly partners. Working with others and improved communications This is useful in the pilot project……….. Test approaches to improved engagement, information sharing and co-ordination of action at a catchment level to assess how we: get more action at a local level, from across society and business, to protect and improve water; build approaches that deliver multiple benefits; help develop guidance for second-cycle planning; Consultation was started through the South East RBMP. This base is being built upon by the areas and especially through the pilot project. We are improving our communications and how we present information through this process.
Integration of work across Environment Agency functions and beyond is the key to catchment management and important in delivery of restoration of wetlands, rivers and coasts at a landscape scale to create healthy, functioning ecosystems and provide ecosystem services. The impacts of man on fresh and coastal waters have been well documented. EG Historically rivers were managed (realigned, deepend) for flood defence and agriculture, pushing water to sea as quickly as possible. Wetlands were drained for agriculture. Weirs and structures have been used to prevent rivers from drying or to provide water for milling etc Integrated management and restoration enables us to hold water back in appropriate places relieving flood risk down stream To recharging aquifers for drinking water. To clean water To support wildlife To allow fish passage MORPH, or the Middle Ouse Restoration of Physical Habitat project is a good example of talking a more integrated approach to benefit people and wildlife. It’s primary is to reduce flood risk by storing water in the floodplain nut is also delivering additional benefits by restoring habitats and fish migration routes. We are working with partners and landowners to do this. WFD (see below right) aims are now being fully incorporated alongside flood risk management. .
Climate change will be significant in the South and provides an additional challenge to us. Ecosystems can help us to adapt and be resilient Water resources – metering and new sources – using less Difficult choices – e.g salmon in the Itchen Flood and coastal squeeze Wildlife and people will need to adapt, and the next slide illustrates ecosystem services well and how we can align different objectives to do this.
Coastal squeeze management delivering for wildife, people at a landscape scale and is facilitating growth and regeneration in the coastal south. Creating approximately 450 hectares of a mosaic of habitats including intertidal, transtional grassland and freshwater (reedbed and ditches) Aims To provide a sustainable flood risk solution To create large scale intertidal habitat To benefit local communities
Is it enough. The things we are currently doing were put in motion before the publication of the white paper and the national ecosystem assessment. SO are we doing enough to promote an ambitions and integrated approach which will create resilient networks and provide society with the service we need? Will our policy change….definitely, but we are on the right course……. we need to Be clear about pressures and priorities based on evidence Working in partnership – including the “ un usual suspects” Help people to value nature Be different Deliver more – we can do this. X people, let’s pull together. Together everyone achieves more
The Nature of Change: Paul Smith
Creating a better place – putting policy into action Paul Smith Environmental Projects Manager 15 September 2011
Summary of the talk <ul><li>Why are we involved? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we know? </li></ul><ul><li>What needs to be done? </li></ul><ul><li>The future </li></ul>
The Environment Agency’s involvement <ul><li>Champion for sustainable development </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible for the water environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Making space for water is key in providing ecosystem services. </li></ul><ul><li>Climate Change Adaptation </li></ul>
What do we know? <ul><li>75% of our water comes from groundwater </li></ul><ul><li>4162 billion litres water abstracted from environment </li></ul><ul><li>Effluent discharge - there are 607 sewage works discharging 13 billion litres treated effluent per day </li></ul><ul><li>The environment is important for </li></ul><ul><li>health and well being </li></ul>
How far have we come? <ul><li>Otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning to our rivers. </li></ul><ul><li>Water quality has improved year on year for the last 20 years </li></ul><ul><li>Water companies have invested heavily through the National Environment Programme </li></ul><ul><li>Locally we’ve improved 45 kms of river habitat through physical restoration, and 4,700 hectares of SSSI are now in Improved Condition. </li></ul>
MORPH Part of the Adur and Ouse pilot catchment Integrated Catchment Management
Climate Change Adaptation <ul><li>Trends for the UK are hotter, drier summers and warmer wetter winters , with more extreme events such as floods, drought and sea level rise. </li></ul><ul><li>By 2020 winter flows could increase by up to 10% for the more responsive catchments and summer flows could reduce by 5-10%). </li></ul><ul><li>By 2050 river flows during the summer and </li></ul><ul><li>autumn could decrease by 50 %. </li></ul>
Medmerry Managed Realignment <ul><li>Aims </li></ul><ul><li>To provide a sustainable flood risk solution </li></ul><ul><li>To create large scale intertidal habitat </li></ul><ul><li>To benefit local communities </li></ul>Working with Natural England, RSPB, local stakeholders and communities
T ogether E veryone A chieves M ore <ul><li>Be clear about pressures and priorities based on evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Help people to value nature </li></ul><ul><li>Working in partnership – including the “ un usual suspects” </li></ul><ul><li>Be different </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver more </li></ul>