Organisation: The Rivers Trust and Coastal Partnerships Network
Type: Case Studies & Projects
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Substantial knowledge gaps exist with respect to estuarine and coastal waters that include the lack of a comprehensive understanding of their current status, the key pressures they face both locally and from up-stream, and the detrimental impacts that arise from these pressures. These knowledge gaps have been exacerbated to date by a relative piecemeal and siloed approach, one whereby integration across the land-sea interface has, typically, been limited.
The WAMM (Wholescape Approach to Marine Management) project was established to address this issue, driving closer collaboration between the Catchment Based Approach ‘CaBA’ Partnerships, Coastal Partnerships and the Coastal Partnerships Network (CPN). In doing so, WAMM has helped to advance a ‘wholescape’ approach that links the coastal environment to the terrestrial and freshwater components upstream. The project has also identified the multiple and synergistic benefits that can arise from adopting a collaborative approach to estuarine and coastal waters, including the potential to deliver larger more holistic environmental projects that encompass a more diverse range of stakeholders.
A Coastal and Estuarine Data Package and Data Explorer has been developed under WAMM. The Explorer enables users to access a national evidence base of over 150 environmental datasets from catchments to coasts without the need for any specialist GIS software. Users can use the Explorer to add and overlay datasets, create their own maps and extract data for their area of interest. The data layers are also available to pull into their own mapping software or shared information platform. The data package and explorer empower CaBA and Coastal Partnerships, and other stakeholders, helping them to identify priorities for action and underpin plans and project proposals with data and evidence.
WAMM has developed an overview of the main legislation and policy areas relating to the freshwater, coastal and marine environments. Captured in Storymap form, the guide provides a succinct summary that broadly moves from up-stream terrestrial and freshwater issues, down the catchment to address estuarine, coastal and marine policy and legislation.
To support CaBA and CPN collaboration and to strengthen data gathering at a local scale, WAMM established a pilot at Morecambe Bay that encompassed the 3 CaBA partnerships of the wider catchment (led by Lune, South Cumbria and Wyre Rivers Trusts respectively) and the Morecambe Bay Coastal Partnership. The area was chosen for several reasons including the multiple designations (SAC, SPA, SSSI, Ramsar) within the Bay, its estuary and hinterland and the heterogenous mix of pressures impacting upon its fresh and coastal waters that require a collaborative and holistic approach to resolve.
The 4 partnerships worked collaboratively under WAMM to implement a monitoring program encompassing plastics and other pollutants. They also collectively designed a Morecambe Bay Storymap that provides a narrative behind the Bay, the challenges it faces and the potential solutions. As a legacy of the project the partners continue to work closely, exploring opportunities to work collaboratively on ‘Green Recovery’ projects.
Through regional workshops, questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and an understanding of current levels of engagement, WAMM has developed a roadmap for collaboration between CaBA and CPN partnerships, identifying perceived barriers to and opportunities for a closer working model that delivers environmental and social benefits. The Roadmap has identified several areas for future development:
Government and research funds could be better earmarked to address the land-sea interface and drive greater integration between the Marine Strategy, the Governments 25-year Environment Plan and the River Basin Management Plans.
Partnerships are delivering a diverse range of environmental and socio-economic benefits and are well placed to work with key stakeholders on issues of water quality, flood risk and climate resilience, amongst others.
Common issues emerged across CaBA and CPN partnerships with priorities including the building of climate resilience, barriers to fish migration and addressing a wide range of pollutants – including emerging ones such as microplastics – that straddle the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments.
Partnerships have high social capital and are well placed to engage local communities and mobilise civil society. Collectively, they offer citizen science opportunities that improve the local evidence base and empower local people in decision-making. Such potential aligns strongly with the ‘green recovery’ goals and levelling-up agenda.
Several benefits arise from collaborative working and there is recognition of the need to strengthen integration between coastal and catchment partnerships, including at senior level. Capacity and resource for the collaborative effort is key, including the time needed to develop understanding and trust and to develop closer working relationships for effective delivery.
Data and evidence help to underpin collaboration, building a shared understanding of issues and supporting co-design of cost-effective solutions. Shared information platforms can play an important role in this respect as can the development of collaborative ‘wholescale’ plans.
Sustained longer term resources and funding for CPN and CaBA is critical, with the support provided for the latter over recent years also required for the Coastal Partnerships.
Support to a Coastal Based Approach (CoBA) alongside CaBA would help make a step-change in holistic delivery for estuarine and coastal environments.
Throughout 2020 a series of regional workshops aim to build knowledge and expertise within coastal, estuarine and CaBA partnerships across a range of issues including data and evidence, policy and legislation and the benefits of collaborative working. The workshops also provide the opportunity to meet other partnerships and initiate collaboration with potential partners, hear about project case studies and discuss barriers and opportunities to collaborative delivery. Download the presentations from each workshop below.
The WAMM project was funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund via the Marine Management Organisation and led by The Rivers Trust in collaboration with the Coastal Partnerships Network.