Over the coming years we’ll be working in partnership with Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and the farming community of the Scaldwell and Walgrave catchments to understand how we can protect and enhance the freshwater environment at a catchment scale by using landscape-wide mitigation measures. We hope to tackle the following questions:
- Can we protect and increase freshwater biodiversity without impinging on farm profitability?
- Can we reduce diffuse water pollution?
- Can we hold back water to help reduce downstream flooding?
Restoring and increasing freshwater biodiversity at catchment scale remains a challenge, with few successful examples. Through this project we aim to build on the substantial evidence base created by the original Water Friendly Farming project, which has demonstrated exciting possibilities to achieve significant successes for freshwater biodiversity, landscape scale water quality, and in addition, reductions in flood peaks through natural flood management. As a second demonstration of the Water Friendly Farming approach, this project will enable us to better understand how replicable these results are and will be the only other demonstration project in the world (as far as we know) that will describe biodiversity of all waterbody types (i.e. streams, ditches, ponds, rivers) in a farmed landscape and at the catchment scale.
The project will be undertaken in three stages:
- Gather an evidence base (2020 – 2021) – Collection of data on the current status of the freshwater environment through the establishment of a monitoring programme for wetland plants & freshwater invertebrates and water quality.
- Install intervention measures (2022) – Working with landowners and farmers to install a series of intervention measures across the impact catchment, aiming to improve biodiversity, water quality and reduce flood peaks. Examples of intervention measure can be viewed below.
- Monitoring the impact (2023-2024) – Once measures are in place we will continue monitoring to assess the impact of intervention measures.
The project area encompasses two stream catchments, the Scaldwell and Walgrave.
The Scaldwell catchment is the impact catchment. Here we will look to install a series of intervention measures that will aim to deliver benefits to freshwater biodiversity, water quality and reducing flood peaks.
The Walgrave catchment will act as the control. An unmodified catchment, with no intervention measures, from which we can compare the status of the freshwater environment, allowing us to assess the effectiveness of intervention measures.
Below are examples of potential measures from other projects that Pitsford Water Friendly Farming will look to undertake.
Project Officer Hannah Worker and the Environment Agency team monitoring fish populations in the Upper Nene using eDNA and electrofishing techniques.