The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a delay of the 2020 field-survey. UKCEH are working alongside the Welsh Government on appropriate and responsible options, however it is unlikely that any ERAMMP data collection activity will take place this year.
Overview of ERAMMP
The Welsh environment supports significant economic sectors including agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry and are of importance to other policy areas including health and well-being, energy and infrastructure. In order to develop policies that build social, economic and environmental resilience and to evaluate programme implementation, the Welsh Government requires a robust Environment & Rural Affairs Monitoring and Modelling Programme (ERAMMP).
The overall aim of ERAMMP is to deliver a programme of monitoring and modelling which collects data across the Welsh landscape and links any changes to their impacts on a wide range of benefits including their economic consequences. The programme will be a key source of data for future editions of the State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR). The programme will also undertake modelling for the EU exit process and the design and evaluation of programmes delivering to the Natural Resources Policy.
To cover this ambitious programme, ERAMMP involves a large consortium of partners that makes best use of existing and ongoing activities across the monitoring and modelling community. The programme also benefits from aligned funding from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (https://www.ceh.ac.uk).
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), ABPMer, ADAS, Bangor University, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, British Geological Survey, British Trust for Ornithology, Cardiff University, Cranfield University, eftec, Forest Research, Institute for European Environmental Policy, National Botanic Garden of Wales, National Trust, Office of National Statistics, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Public Health Wales, Ricardo, Snowdonia National Park Authority, Staffordshire University and Swansea University.
In GMEP, models were used to explore the likely outcome of a range of Glastir options at a national scale for climate change mitigation, water quality and biodiversity. Within ERAMMP, a more ambitious programme of modelling is planned. This includes:
‘Quick Start’ which explores the environmental consequences of potential responses by farmers and other land managers to different trade deals from the Welsh Government EU exit policy team. These responses are converted to land use change across Wales using a rule base. Models for climate mitigation, recreation, biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage and air quality for public health are then run. These model outputs are then presented both as changes to natural resources and changes to ‘public goods’. These in turn can often be converted to changes in economic values.
An Integrated Modelling Platform (IMP) is also being developed which will directly be driven by external socio-economic drivers, with field-scale resolution, will involve feedbacks between process models and include climate sensitivity. Models and outputs will be as for the Quick Start modelling but will include crop-yield and profitability. A web-based user interface will allow for different options to be explored including the impacts of different public payment scheme options and climate change scenarios and their associated environmental and economic consequences.
A requirement of ERAMMP is to take account of the extremely valuable environmental data that has been collected, and continues to be collected across the monitoring community and involve new organisations to extend to new policy areas. To meet this requirement ERAMMP builds on past monitoring data from the Glastir Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (GMEP) which was commissioned to establish a baseline of environmental condition at the start of the Glastir Scheme.
Land survey locations in GMEP were selected using an approach which ensured good coverage of all major land classes which are defined by characteristics such as climate, geology and topography. This approach ensured the survey captured a representative set of the major farm, woodland and land managed for habitat in Wales, as these land uses are closely linked to these fundamental landscape characteristics.
The survey approach also recognised our natural resources are inter-dependent and impact on each other by co-locating many measurements within the same 1 km survey squares. Going forward in ERAMMP, a subset of these sites will be re-visited over the next few years to record both ongoing change in the Welsh landscape and changes resulting from the Glastir scheme.
Field survey methods used to map habitat and linear features such as hedges and walls and assess the condition of soil, vegetation, headwaters and ponds were those previously developed for a GB-wide survey called Countryside Survey (https://countrysidesurvey.org.uk), developed by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This approach was taken to allow for the detection of long term trends across Wales due to a wide range of many pressures such as fertiliser price, legacy of past land management schemes and climate change. Additional methods for the surveys done in the GMEP project were developed to capture co-located baseline data on the diversity of birds and pollinators, landscape quality, status and threats of cultural features and public rights of way. Approximately half of all data collected by GMEP was representative of land inside Glastir and half outside of Glastir to ensure there was sufficient data to provide a backdrop against which Glastir impact could be evaluated.
Alongside the field survey of natural and cultural resources, a series of social surveys were carried out in GMEP and new surveys will be commissioned in ERAMMP. These may include:
- Farmer surveys to explore changes which farmers make in response to Glastir payments and future change due to EU exit and ongoing climate change
- Farmer interviews to explore whole carbon footprints of representative farms
- Land manager interviews to explore the reasons limiting uptake of woodland creation options
- Public preference surveys to landscape quality