We have been working with The National Trust to help them monitor the condition of freshwater habitats on its estate in order to determine the status of freshwater habitats as important wildlife features in their own right and to assess freshwater quality as an indicator of how well the National Trust is managing the land and soils on its properties.
The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out action to help the natural world regain and retain good health. It aims to deliver cleaner air and water in our cities and rural landscapes, protect threatened species and provide richer wildlife habitats. It calls for an approach to agriculture, forestry, land use and fishing that puts the environment first.
Natural capital ideas are clearly at the heart of the 25 year plan and should provide the evidence to monitor its impact. The plan sets out the intention to develop a set of metrics to assess progress towards the 25 year goals, with the promise to report on progress annually.
As major landowners, the National Trust’s own 10 year strategy outlines their ambition to play a part in achieving the plan – restoring a healthy, beautiful, natural environment by thinking and acting long-term, testing innovative new approaches and working in partnership at landscape scale to develop sustainable solutions to the crisis facing our natural environment.
Working in partnership with The National Trust we have developed a monitoring strategy for freshwater habitats. Overall the objective is to evaluate improvement (or deterioration) within the National Trust estate, by comparing a selection of monitored sites over a five year monitoring cycle, to the rest of the landscape. This will be done by comparing the data collected on National Trust land with the condition of sites in national monitoring programmes using the same methods.
We have adopted a tiered approach to freshwater monitoring.
Tier 1 will use data from existing national monitoring programmes undertaken by statutory agencies where available collected mainly for Water Framework Directive (WFD) and other statutory monitoring purposes.
Tier 2 will complement this information with new data, based on a 1 km square stratified sampling approach covering smaller non-WFD waters (ponds, small lakes, streams) which make a substantial contribution to freshwater biodiversity and freshwater ecosystem services.
Tier 3 will comprise monitoring that enables individual properties to assess the condition of their waterbodies and
Tier 4 comprises detailed bespoke monitoring of specific projects (e.g. natural flood management projects).
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