A CaBA catchment plan will establish a strong framework for collaborative working to deliver integrated catchment management and will develop as the catchment partnership grows and becomes sustainable.
Integrated catchment management can provide multiple benefits for all the partner organisations and the local community, including reducing flood risk whilst also cleaning up pollution, protecting drinking water resources, improving biodiversity and improving the health and recreation for local communities. Planning integrated, collaborative actions will be more cost-beneficial than projects tackling single issues, as the partners can share the cost burden, whilst still meeting their own objectives. The CaBA workflow follows a natural capital approach consistent with the natural capital workbook.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of physical assets such as buildings or roads and financial assets such as stocks and shares. Natural capital extends this concept by describing the natural environment as a stock of assets. The concept of assets reminds us to maintain and restore where necessary, to ensure a sustainable balance between different asset types and to try to increase the value of our capital or ‘natural wealth’. An integrated catchment plan, based on the principle of adaptive management, will help the partners to agree on the best course of action to maximise the natural capital of our catchments and usually consists of five key components:
Building partnerships takes time and a lot of effort. It is the foundation for collaboration and there is no short cut. Trust built here will pay dividends later when partners write joint funding bids and the local community is supportive. CaBA partnerships use engagement tools and techniques to bring stakeholders together, set a vision and agree priorities.
CaBA partnerships make use of the best available data and evidence to develop a shared understanding of the issues and to target their actions and funds where they will have multiple benefits for all the partners. For example, a well-targeted habitat restoration project can benefit wildlife, but can also reduce flood risk downstream, improve drinking water quality and provide social, health and recreation benefits to local people.
Creating and improving the evidence base involves three main steps. Every CaBA partnership can make use of the evidence base in the CaBA Data Package:-
The CaBA Data Package provides a good base level of data for all three stages of the evidence base. The CaBA Data User Guide identifies some of the most useful additional data that can be added from local sources within your catchment to compliment the basic package and turn it into a “Local Evidence Pack” that is specific to the priorities and characteristics of your catchment. The Catchment Data & Evidence FORUM is used to build the widest possible practitioner community and identify barriers and opportunities where policy makers can focus their work so that the 25 Year Environment Plan is based on the best available data & evidence. A summary from the 2018 meeting is available here
An effective partnership, with an evidence-based plan, is in a great position to deliver ambitious projects which provide multiple benefits to all partners. There are two highly effective approaches which are evolving across CaBA partnerships:
Monitoring outcomes is a critical part of the catchment planning process. This is how we find out whether the actions and interventions have worked and then adjust future plans accordingly. Environmental monitoring needs careful planning to ensure that the appropriate criteria are measured. This is currently the least developed part of the CaBA workflow. There are a growing number of resources to help partnerships but these resources are incomplete and sometimes difficult to use; we will improve them as soon as possible. The picture that is emerging highlights two key areas to focus on:
CaBA provides a unique opportunity to improve the catchment plans through peer to peer learning and mentoring. The CaBA Discussion Forum; annual conferences and the mentoring program can be used by all partnerships to share learning and build capacity.