The project titled ‘Connecting Burton and the Trent Washlands: A New Vision’ covers the East Staffordshire floodplain and extents, including interfaces with the adjacent urban areas. Considering approximately 630ha, it is an extensive green infrastructure resource that follows the river Trent through the heart of Burton. The landscape vision Black & Veatch provided for this area was shaped by research, community engagement, aspirations of partner organisations and collaboration with a steering group. The end result is a portfolio of suggested landscape enhancements which will provide environmental and social opportunities, this vision is communicated to stakeholders and the general public through an innovative 3D story map format. The success of this project has been recognised through the Landscape Institute Awards 2018 where the project won ‘Best Local Landscape Planning Project’.
Extensive public consultation through the Trent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme had already taken place for the area, this included some habitat mapping of the region. Black and Veatch added to this knowledge base by producing a Natural Capital Register. This documented the type, extent, quality and ecosystem service provision of the habitats in the study area and was based on standard guidance (UKNEA and the Green Book) and local expert consultation. This Register then provided a basis for an Ecosystem Service Assessment (ESA) and Valuation (ESV) to describe the marginal changes to ecosystem services provision likely to occur as a result of the proposed enhancements. The ESV was also linked to the area's spatial deprivation indices to demonstrate the potential flow of benefits to society and highlight potential beneficiary 'hot spots' within the local community. One of the aims of the work is to enable an already planned Flood Risk Management Scheme to capitalise on wider opportunities for landscape regeneration that will enhance the ecosystem service provision to the Washlands Community.
The project aimed to achieve a balance of producing an ambitious shared vision which was also realistic and likely to obtain the required funding. This was achieved through extensive and frequent collaboration with the steering group throughout the project to manage expectations and discuss potential scale and type of any enhancements. In addition, the ESA and ESV can be used to inform potential ‘target areas’ which would provide the highest impact in terms of ecosystem service provision within the scope and budget. The areas deemed to be the highest impact are those where landscape regeneration opportunities are deemed to enhance the ecosystem service provision to benefit the Washlands community.
Communicating the complex concept, ideas and results of the Ecosystem Service Assessment and Valuation was acknowledged as a challenge from the start of the project. The use of an innovative 3D story map aimed to provide an interactive platform that gives a simplified holistic view which is accessible and understandable, whilst still providing the opportunity to access additional detail if requested. The map aims to promote understanding, by reducing the ‘information overload’ that ESA’s can produce whilst maintaining transparency about the context and methods used to obtain the results, in particular where and how monetary values have been assigned. As the project moves forward this resource is planned for continued use in communicating information to the wider public and attracting funding for the enhancements’ implementation.
Black & Veatch (Landscape vision and ESA/ESV consultant), Environment Agency (client and coordinator of steering group), East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC – owner), Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (SWT), The National Forest Company, Trent Rivers Trust (TRT)
Which ecosystem services were focused on?:
- Health and well-being
- Drinking water
- Trees, standing vegetation, peat
- Water supply
- Wild species
- Carbon sequestration & storage
- Climate regulation
- Detoxification and purification in air, soils and water
- Erosion control
- Flood control
- Hazard regulation
Also used the results of a nationally recognized deprivation index