The project Valuing land use and management changes in the Keighley and Watersheddles catchment aimed to value the ecosystem services provided under different land use and management scenarios and to compare these benefits with the potential costs.
Two options were tested; supporting ecosystem services by investing in sensitive land management and restoring habitats, and a scenario where public money was withdrawn and only the minimum requirement of environmental regulations were met. The project found that there were significant benefits to water quality, carbon storage and biodiversity from investing in the Keighley catchment.
This project was featured in Issue 2 of Ecosystems News.
The Keighley catchment is an important water supply, landscape and biodiversity resource in the South Pennines National Character Area, as well as supporting grouse and sheep farming. It delivers between eight and ten million litres a day into the water supply for the South Pennine region. The colour quality of the raw water has been declining over the past two decades.
How an ecosystems approach is reflected in the work
The scenarios for the catchment were developed in consultation with all partners with interest or influence in land management of the catchment. The project was one of three pilot projects running as part of the Delivering Nature’s Services programme, the upland ecosystem service pilots initiated by Natural England. The project aimed to investigate whether investing in the natural environment could bring multiple benefits in a cost-effective way.
Outputs and outcomes
A set of Value Transfer Guidelines produced for Defra provided a useful framework to quantitatively assess some of the main ecosystem service changes in the catchment.
What lessons have been learnt
The biggest challenge was to translate the implications of potential land use and land management changes through to potential changes in ecosystem services. This needed close working with economists, natural scientists, Natural England and Yorkshire Water.
It was important to build good relationships with landowners and tenants to ensure that eventual delivery of land management interventions would be successful. The wide engagement and consultation ensured that information was captured on as many potential ecosystem services as possible. This led to a better understanding of the impact of changes in land management on the stakeholders in the catchment.