Date publishedThursday, 20 October 2022
News from the team
It's been a busy September in Dorset's Catchment Land, so much so that the whole month skipped by without time for a newsletter!
We have been successful in recruiting a new Catchment Partnership Officer, who will be starting with us in mid-November and comes with some really useful skills and experience, so look out for the next newsletter in November, when they'll introduce themselves to you all.
In the meantime, thank you all for your continued patience as things take a little longer than usual whilst my capacity is stretched... I'm currently focussing on supporting a number of different funding applications and other project development work, and it's great to be immersed in the passion and creativity you all have for delivering the solutions our catchments need in innovative ways from across the partnership.
Long term trends in river quality have been published this week by the Environment Agency. The data shows "the results of an analysis of long-term trend data for ammonia, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and nutrients as important measures of the quality and health of English rivers". The results are positive, showing that water quality has improved against a number of variables since the 1990s, and may even be offsetting some of the impacts of climate change.
The Environment Agency has published a summary of responses to the recent RBMP consultation; 270 responses were received, and the EA is now updating the plans to reflect the feedback given, with the expectation of publishing the updated plans by the end of 2022.
UK Research and Innovation have funded six major new research projects to explore the most effective ways to expand the UK's trees, hedgerows, woodlands and forests in rural and urban settings. UKRI acknowledges the contribution forests and other treescapes make to climate goals including reaching net zero, as well as reducing flooding, improving biodiversity, reducing pollution and benefitting people's wellbeing. The projects' aims include developing practical tools for farmers to support expansion of tree planting on agricultural land, and establishing a web-based tool to map the risk of woodland and farmland damage caused by deer. Find out more here.
Early in September the successful Landscape Recovery Scheme projects were announced by Defra; these include the Wareham Arc project in the Poole Harbour catchment, and also the Axe Landscape Partnership which includes a small area of West Dorset. Find the full list of successful pilot projects here.
In July the Government introduced legislation to protect Eurasian beaver under Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. This change came into force on 1 October 2022. Defra and Natural England have published guidance on best practice management and licensing to support their protection. This guidance sets out how beavers are protected and a five-step approach to managing beaver activities (which can be found on GOV.UK here), as well as when a licence is or is not needed to manage beaver activities and outlines the type of licences that will be available (found here). Defra has also published the summary of consultation responses to the public consultation on the national approach to beaver management and reintroduction in England on GOV.UK. The response can be found here.
- BCP Council have published the latest Stour Valley Park Strategy and are now working on the next stage of the project's development. The National Trust are bringing in a Programme Manager to drive this process on parts of the Kingston Lacy estate at the top end of the SVP area. Please contact Ruth Wharton at BCP for more information until the NT Programme Manager is in post.
- Wessex Water is launching Bridport Community Connectors, a flagship project which is at the heart of changing the way the company works with communities in its region. By working together with communities and supporting projects led by those who know their residents best, Wessex Water aim to improve shared outcomes for people and the environment. As a starting point, the project team is carrying out baseline surveys with the Bridport community, which will be carried out online (link here; as a thanks for taking part, respondents can enter a prize draw with the chance of winning one of four £100 high street e-vouchers). Market research staff have also recently carried out face-to-face interviews with members of public in the town. The team also plan to interview key local stakeholders, to supplement the community survey, in the next few weeks. These interviews will also be rerun in 12 months and 2 years to assess the impact of the project. If you'd like to be involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Wessex Water is also seeking an experienced community development professional to be the Community Connector Project Manager for Bridport; see the jobs section below for full details.
- The revised draft of the Poole Harbour Aquatic Management Plan has been produced by Luke Bennett from Poole Harbour Commissioners; it is currently circulating around members of the Poole Harbour Steering Group (not a Catchment Partnership group, but we are represented) for comment, with a view to finalising the revised Plan before the end of December 2022.
- Dorset Wildlife Trust has signed up 36 volunteers as part of the Water Guardians project. The volunteers are currently undergoing training with a view to monitoring allocated stretches of river in November. Please contact Colleen Smith-Moore for more information: email@example.com
- The DWT project team from the Enclosed Beaver Scientific Study in the Hooke catchment were pleased to announce over the summer that two kits have been seen with the introduced beavers in the enclosure, demonstrating that the welfare of the adult pair is good; the team are continuing to monitor the site on a regular basis and deliver stakeholder and public engagement about the beavers and the wider study.
The Catchment Partnership is busy delivering current projects in a number of locations, but our partners are also working hard to secure large-scale funding for landscape-scale programmes in prioritised areas too. To aid this, Natalie has been working with partnership teams to write early-stage bids and/or carry out initial stakeholder and partner scoping workshops to shape these programmes. For more information, please get in touch with Natalie. Programmes being developed include:
- Stour chalk streams and clay vales- a potential 10+ year project substantially supported by Wessex Water and Bournemouth Water to deliver significant water quality and flow improvements in targeted catchments. Key partners- DWT, FWAG SW and Wessex RT. Timescale: 2025-2035+
- Upper Frome Flagship Chalkstream Restoration project- a landscape-scale project working with landowners and the water company to reduce nutrient and sediment inputs to the Hooke, Wraxall Brook and Frome Headwaters, as well as improve their morphology and flow. Key partners- Wessex Water and DWT, but will involve many others in its development and delivery. Timescale: 2025-2030
- Frome and Upper Piddle Salmon in chalk streams project- a landscape scale project using salmon as a flagship species to drive investment in community-led chalk stream restoration. This programme seeks to link together, augment and add value to existing measures in the project area as well as providing communities with opportunities to determine and get involved with restoring their local rivers. Key partners- Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, DWT, FWAG SW, Wessex Water, EA, NE, Dorset AONB and more.
Wetland Opportunity Mapping now live!
Many of you will know that our partners at Dorset Council have been working with Natural England and the Westcountry Rivers Trust to develop a useful online mapping tool to support those planning wetland projects for nutrient mitigation and reduction. Lyn Cooch tells us more:
"The importance of both strategic and farm wetlands as a solution to deliver nutrient reduction was identified in the EA & NE Poole Harbour Consent Order Technical Recommendations report (February 2021). Sectors, including housing development, are required to reduce N and P, and it was recommended they work together to identify wetland opportunities. Dorset Council set up a small steering group to look at what was initially needed; it was agreed some form of mapping would be helpful and that existing mapping across the Poole Harbour Catchment should be reviewed along with other data which may be available. Natural England secured funding and a contract was let to the Westcountry Rivers Trust to undertake this review. The specification was divided into 2 parts.
- A comprehensive review of all existing wetland opportunity mapping and appropriate Poole Harbour Catchment data to establish priority areas for different wetland types and
- Collation of mapping layers to create specific ‘wetland opportunity’ layers with a simple user document suitable for use by a wide range of audiences
It was agreed to use Dorset Explorer so data could be easily accessed, added to, and updated in the future. A specific version of Dorset Explorer for the wetland opportunity mapping has been created, available to all interested partner organisations/individuals disseminated by the Catchment Partnership. If you would like to suggest additional layers from the public Dorset Explorer or would like to provide feedback, please get in touch. It is hoped that this guide and opportunity mapping can be expanded on as more information and wetland projects are developed in the future"
Access and explore the new mapping layers here: PHC Wetlands Opportunity Mapping version of DorsetExplorer