Date publishedTuesday, 21 February 2023
Welcome to our February newsletter
As end of the financial and project reporting year looms next month, I know partners are working hard to complete delivery on some of our key projects, gather data for monitoring reports and build cases for continuing to fund, or fund new project work across our catchments. This month’s newsletter is a bumper edition, so I hope you’ll find time to have a read and discover something new.
Earlier this month we hosted a team from Plymouth University to our Poole Harbour Fisheries subgroup meeting to learn about the European DiadES project and play a ‘serious game’. The project aims to assess the decline in distribution and population in diadromous fish (those that move from seawater to freshwater e.g., eel, salmon and trout) and the ecological and socioeconomic impacts on local communities. The game is a tool to aid learning and also get people round the table and to help foster discussions on sustainability and long-term management amongst fishermen, policy makers and stakeholders.
Imogen Davenport and Steve Oliver from Dorset Wildlife Trust hosted visits to the West Dorset Beaver Project for members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group. It was fascinating to see the work that the beavers had undertaken since our last visit, transforming the landscape, and diversifying the habitat further - coppicing trees, creating side channels, and dam building. There was a robust conversation around the challenges and impacts beavers can have in catchments for both residents and wildlife including migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout.
As always, if you have news you’d like to share with our partners, please let Sally know so she can include it in next month’s edition.
News from our catchments
The Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme is now in full swing with 55 registered member farmers and a further 15 going through the registration process. Members will submit their completed Agricultural Compliance Tool and Nitrate Leaching Tool through the scheme, rather than to the EA, to meet their nutrient accounting requirements for the Poole Harbour catchment for the year 2022/23. For more information on the scheme, including how to join, visit pooleharbournitrates.org.uk
The DCP team is currently supporting the Dorset Peat Partnership across the Dorset Heaths SAC to develop mire restoration plans for 16 sites, taking into account hydrology, ecology, peat depth, historic environment and more (find out more here). Sarah Oakley (FE), Ellie Egan (NT), Karen Elborn (BCP), Project Manager Grace Hervé (DWT) and Natalie recently visited a Natural England site in Somerset along with representatives from a range of other peat partnerships from the South West to see first-hand some innovative techniques for peat restoration. It was a fascinating day, and the Dorset Peat Partnership team were wowed by the scale of what NE and their contractors were doing. Everyone came back full of ideas for how to apply or adapt these techniques to various sites within our own project. NE will release more information on the site and their work soon, but if partners would like to know more in the interim, please get in touch with Natalie.
Stour Valley Park
Learn about ‘The UK’s first Health and Nature Park’ based in the lower part of the Dorset Stour. The project aims to deliver a diverse and abundant nature network and opportunities for recreation. It will cover 4000ha and run from the NT’s Kingston Lacy Estate, 25km downstream to the coast at Hengistbury Head. Read more and explore the interactive maps here.
Environmental Improvement Plan
Defra has announced a raft of green targets to halt and reverse the decline in nature. Commitments include tackling nutrient pollution, creating and restoring at least 500,000 ha of wildlife habitats, bringing 75% of protected sites into favourable condition by 2042.
Reducing nutrient enrichment by reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution from agriculture into the water environment by at least 40% by 2038, compared to a 2018 baseline, with an interim target of 10% by 31 January 2028, and 15% in catchments containing protected sites in unfavourable condition due to nutrient pollution by 31 January 2028. And reducing phosphorus loadings from treated wastewater by 80% by 2038 against a 2020 baseline, with an interim target of 50% by 31 January 2028.
There are targets for water companies to have eliminated all adverse ecological impacts from sewage discharges at all sensitive sites by 2035, and at all other overflows by 2050. To cut leaks by 50% by 2050 and reduce leakage by 20% by 31 March 2027 and 30% by March 2032.
The Woodlands for Water project aims at providing dedicated support to farmers and landowners to encourage more riparian woodland creation unlocking the potential of over 150,000 miles of watercourses in England.
There’s a lot to digest! Read Defra’s blog here on what the EIP means for a range of stakeholders.
Capturing carbon in the landscape
Six projects have secured £4.3 million of funding to trial the most effective ways to capture carbon and mitigate the impacts of climate change. These landscape scale projects, of over 500ha each will assess how carbon is captured and stored across various habitats including grasslands, forest, wetland and hedgerows.
Green Infrastructure Framework
Natural England have just launched the Green Infrastructure Framework, which is designed to help towns and cities increase their amount of green cover by up to 40% in urban areas. It includes a best practice guide, an award-winning mapping tool and design guide to create attractive places for people bringing nature to everyone’s doorstep.
Frog and toad spawn survey
On 9th January, Paul Edgar, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) recorded the earliest recorded spawn sighting in Hampshire. Help Freshwater Habitats Trust by sending in and uploading your sightings of spawn, and frogs and toads to PondNet Spawn Survey 2023.
Forestry Commission mapping
The FC have updated their map browser with new versions of their English Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) targeting layers for flood risk, riparian buffers (Keeping Rivers Cool) and water quality. All available under the Targeting and Scoring section.
Shut down waste criminals
The Environment Agency is ramping up efforts to reduce waste crime which is damaging to the environment and currently costs £1 billion a year - be it fly tipping and dumping, metal theft, breaches in permits, and money laundering. You can help the EA by completing this survey by Monday 27th February.
Events and webinars
The River Restoration Centre offers a 4-day certification course in March on River Habitat Surveys. The certification is valid for 3 years, with surveyors being asked to attend a short refresher course. Visit the website to book your place and find out more.
An Action Strategy for River Restoration - a reminder that the River Restoration Centre are hosting their annual conference in Birmingham on the 19th & 20th April. Find out more here.
Poole Harbour Low Tide Cruises – Birds of Poole Harbour have added two low tide trips to spot overwintering wader and wildfowl species on Saturday 4th March and Monday 6th March. The extensive intertidal mudflats support internationally important numbers of wetland birds including Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Red-breasted Merganser and Wigeon.
Beaver Ecology and Field Signs event – Join Steve Oliver on Friday 31st March to learn about the Dorset Wildlife Trust Beaver Project. Take a tour of the diverse wetland systems created by the beavers. Book your place here.
Bright Blue Dorset – If you missed Dorset Climate Action Network’s Cleaning up Our Rivers Together event held last month then catch up here on the presentations and also take a look at other campaigns on their website.
- The Environment Agency has vacancies for a Strategic Water Resources Lead and a Chalk Coordinator and Engagement Lead covering Wessex, the closing date for both applications is Monday 27th
- Wessex Water are looking for an Assistant Catchment Adviser and an Environmental scientist - apply for both positions by Monday 27th
- Bug Life are on the hunt for a Saving Sites Officer, apply by Thursday 2nd
- Natural England have a vacancy for a Senior Specialist - Hydrology, deadline is the Sunday 5th
- The Environment Agency also has a vacancy for an Environmental Monitoring Officer (Pan-Area Chalk Streams), the deadline for applications is Monday, 6th
- NE are also seeking a Senior Specialist – Targets & Indicators (Freshwater & Air), the application deadline is Monday 20th
- The Environment Agency has several other opportunities working in water resources. Head here for more vacancies.