Working together in Partnership, for the Tamar….
The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) aims to bring together multiple interests in river basin management planning and enable and engage local organisations, groups and communities in having greater involvement in this process. By working together in partnership with the major stakeholders to identify key goals within the catchment, the objective is to achieve more and progress further towards a sustainable future through the delivery of actions which align with the targets of the Water Framework Directive.
In 2012 the Westcountry Rivers Trust applied to host the Tamar Catchment Partnership. This group of stakeholders chose to adopt an Ecosystem Approach to evaluate multiple services and multiple benefits provided by a river catchment and the land that drains into it. This developed into a handful of themed interests which could be investigated in greater detail eg. point source water pollution, water resource, biodiversity and habitats etc. After discussion to identify and analyse data, using our unique Ecosystem Services mapping techniques, the Partnership were then in a position to fine-tune what they considered as key areas of risk and/or opportunity – and from here identified a list of intervention measures that would achieve maximum impact and multiple benefits. The process and the aspirations were drafted in the Tamar Plan which was delivered to Defra as a result.
Since 2012 the Partnership has been focussing on actions rather than meetings, which require funding to reach realisation. A number of small funding opportunities have arisen, as well as central support towards the CaBA programme. So far the Tamar Partnership has contributed to numerous works including……
Farm advice – Working with delivery partners for a number of schemes to ensure integration across the region and providing guidance for the small changes in farming infrastructure that have a huge impact in the prevention of run-off entering the water courses, such as the installation of fencing to prevent livestock entering the water, or improved drainage systems. Upstream Thinking, Working Wetlands, Catchment Sensitive Farming and Countryside Stewardship are all represented in the Partnership.
Reducing point source and diffuse domestic or urban pollution – By identifying and targeting sewage misconnections and septic tank inputs it is possible to effectively and efficiently prevent these pollution sources contaminating the water course. This is a major element of the 3 Rivers Restoration Project in operation now on the Lower Tavy, Lumburn and Walkham – alongside work to provide advice to the farming sector.
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Soil organic carbon – Carbon storage was a theme in the original groups and WRT are currently working with Rothamstead Research and Tamar Valley Organic Group (+B) to run a trial project undertaking soil samples to establish soil organic carbon levels in representative sites to compare soil type and farm management practice. Soil organic matter improves the workability and health of the soil , improves nutrient retention and it’s capacity to hold water; hence reduced soil erosion, less leaching of nutrients, improved production and mitigation of extreme weather events. This seed fund will allow benchmark data to be collected, with a view to extend coverage and understanding.
Produce – Supporting the setup of a local scale wholesale food hub within the region. Tamar Grow Local is an ambitious group of growers who are passionate about producing and distributing food locally. A small fund enabled them to trial wholesale chains in an effort to provide greater supply resilience for producers and has since led to other project success which has seen the operation grow.
Education, engagement and awareness – We are keen to raise awareness within the community with the aim to reconnect them with their natural environment, in particular the vital services that a river system provides us with, such as fresh drinking water. The TaMARK campaign went out on the road in the summer of 2015 to talk to local people and understand what the Tamar means to them. This came about due to the WaterLIFE project, in partnership with WWF UK which has an ambition to encourage communities, companies and Government to work together to improve water quality towards achieving better Water Framework Directive status.
Promoting the development of sustainable drainage – This ranges from reconstructing wetlands and on farm ponds, to the installation of swales or urban attenuation features. Across our region we have been in discussion with Local Authorities and Planners to consider how the landscape and new development may work together whilst providing greater recreational or biodiversity opportunities.
This is just a snapshot of the many activities being carried out within the Tamar Catchment. For more information sign up to our newsletter….