Ecosystem Services for Making Space for Water Project
Peter Worrall (Technical Director, Penny Anderson Associates Ltd) An ecosystem service assessment of the financial benefits of moorland/blanket bog restoration (example from the Holnicote Project on Exmoor)
The Holnicote project on Exmoor is a “sister” project of the Making Space for Water project on Kinder Scout. This project also aims to provide evidence supporting the link between changing land management (restoration) and flood alleviation. However, the catchments involved in the study include heather moorland with shallow peat layer, deciduous woodland areas and pastures with rivers and streams running down to the sea. Their remit was to establish baseline hydrological status for two adjacent catchments and then monitor the effects of changing land management practices in one of the catchments at a sufficient scale to influence hydrology.
Such changes involved the slowing down of water courses, including the re-invigoration of floodplains using low bunds to prolong storage of flood water and the use of woody debris dams in more steeply flowing streams. Additional negotiations are being carried out to adapt current farming practices.
Some of the difficulties encountered in projects of this type include the long time required for planning and installing hydrological monitoring equipment, in addition to the time required for gathering sufficient baseline data.
The management and processing of relatively large datasets is a further consideration. The future funding of these types of projects is likely to be based on the concept of “Payments for Ecosystem Services” (PES). While there is still much debate and variation in the precise shape for this concept, it is likely that a calculation of the costs of implementing, maintaining and monitoring of land management (restoration) changes will be at the heart of PES. These costs can then be passed on to the major beneficiaries.