We all need Ecosystem Services…

Great blog by my colleague & summer intern Emily explaining Ecosystem Services and how these affect your life – happy reading:

Water Care Partnership

Since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005 there has been increasing emphasise on the importance of conserving and enhancing our ecosystem services. But what is meant by this term and how does it affect you and your community?

Whether you realise it or not, you and every single person on Earth benefits directly and indirectly from the environment and the ecosystem services it provides.

Downstream View of Old Bedford River Downstream View of the Old Bedford River. Source: Cambridgeshire ACRE

What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystems are a combination of all living (plants, animals, organisms) and non-living components (water, air, soil) in the environment around us. In turn ecosystem services are defined as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems”. These include security, health, basic material for a good life and good social relations. The services provided by the environment fall into four categories: Provisioning, Supporting, Regulating and Cultural.

How do they affect me?

The…

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Starting my volunteer summer placement…

logosHello, I am Emily Stacey and I have just begun a Volunteer Summer Placement with Cambridgeshire ACRE working on both The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership and The Water Care Partnership. Having always lived in a rural area I have a great passion for our local countryside and am strongly supportive of the conservation of its unique wildlife and habitats. This summer I graduated from the University of Reading with a degree in Physical Geography. I now dream of a career in environmental management where I can play an active role in promoting the importance of the environment as well as work closely with communities.

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The Old Bedford River at the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve. Images by Sheils Flynn for OWLP.

Alongside my position at Cambridgeshire ACRE I work for the National Trust at Wimpole Hall Estate where conservation of the property, land and the ‘Spirit of Wimpole’ is a key priority. With significant background in public interaction I believe this placement is a great opportunity for me to gain the relative experience I need to build my CV, and utilise the knowledge I have gained throughout my study.

My time at Reading…

At University I was able to shape my study to attain fundamental knowledge to support my interests in conservation, biodiversity and sustainable practices. I extremely enjoyed the practical side of my course including the opportunities to visit diverse areas of the UK including the Lake District and Pembrokeshire where sustainable land use was a key focus. Travelling to the Akamas Natura 2000 Conservation Area of Cyprus was a highlight and I was able to explore the vast landscape and learn about the continuing conflicts in land development experienced between developing interests of the local people and conservation interests of environmentalists.

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Cattle grazing causing bank erosion along the Ely Ouse.

My participation in such trips has not only allowed me to develop skills in data collection and surveys but also enabled me to experience the expansive habitats that our planet has to offer. Furthermore having worked closely with agricultural students on joint modules and through the University of Reading Agricultural Society my interest for sustainable land management and farming practices has grown.

My personal research project…

Like projects within both partnerships my final year dissertation took on aspects of land management. Through assessment of phosphate and nitrate concentrations along a stretch of the River Cam I developed an understanding of the effect of sewage discharge and agricultural input on the water quality.

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Typical Fen IDB Drainage Ditch

Primary data illustrated significant variation in river concentrations with changing land use. I found sewage effluents to have a particularly noticeable influence on phosphate loads which is a key issue that has arisen in the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment covered by The Water Care Partnership. Furthermore through communication with Cambridge Water I was able to obtain groundwater nutrient concentrations from which I concluded elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater to reflect the occurrence of landfill sites, both Historic and Authorised.

My study also investigated aspects of biodiversity. By method of percentage cover I aimed to understand the effect of water quality on the species present. With my previous study and experience relating to aims and interests of The Water Care Partnership I recognise this placement to be hugely valuable for my progression and interests.

My first few weeks here…

Within the few weeks of my placement I have already had the opportunity to attend meetings at the Brampton Environment Agency Office where I have developed deeper understanding of the projects underway and the issues the organisation is up against. Furthermore I now fully understand the importance of the creation of partnerships in enabling smooth interaction and clear communication between groups as well as in making full use of valuable local knowledge.

Summer walk

Summer Walk at WWT Welney Reserve

Although enjoying the office based tasks I have undertaken I am excited for the chance to venture out of the office and to assist in the organised walks, aimed at educating people on the issues arising within the Ouse Washes. With the Fenland landscape very different from my local area in Hertfordshire I want to get involved in the local community of the OWLP area and enjoy the wide range of habitats and wildlife, identifying the native species as well as fenland non-native species that I have already learnt to be a current issue. I believe this placement is going to be a valuable experience and a great learning curve. I look forward to meeting more of the partners involved in the partnerships and the opportunity to play a practical role in the progression of current projects.

My future aims…

Having thoroughly enjoyed my degree course I aim for a career where I can use the knowledge and skills I have attained. Along the way I developed a deep interest in the environmental impacts of land use and measures taken to tackle these whilst ensuring benefit to all stakeholders. In turn conservation and land management is the route I want to follow.

Interaction with people is of huge importance to me and is a strong personal skill of mine. Therefore I would love my future career to feature great involvement with communities as well as work within a close-knit team.

Have a meander along your river

Do you live in or near Welney, Denver, March or Ely? They have something in common… Can you guess what they all have? Rivers! They all have their own character and issues. Would you like to enjoy and learn about your local Fenland rivers?

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This is a chance to enjoy a lovely, informative and sociable walk along some of our local rivers whilst discussing and gaining an understanding of issues and impacts upon these and other Fenland rivers and on the Ouse Washes. It will be a laid-back endeavour with stops to view the scenery and features, or to chat and take photographs.

The Ouse Washes

The Ouse Washes. Image by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, all rights reserved.

A partnership (The Water Care Partnership) is working to investigate and work towards solutions for the problems these rivers face and which have been pointed out by the Environment Agency. This is where you and your ideas and involvement comes in! It is important to consider local communities’ perspectives and skills in the care and management of these valuable natural resources.

Everyone and anyone are welcome on these ‘Riverside Walks and Talks’ however the walks may not be suitable for some people like wheelchair users. Light refreshments will be provided and you can find out how to get involved with protecting your local environment.

There are four walks around the area, all of which will be approximately 2 miles and may take up to 2.5 hours.

Welney – Sunday 14th September 10am

“A catchment based approach to the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment”

River at Welney

River Delph at Welney

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – Welney

Ely – Sunday 14th September 2pm

“Our part in the bigger picture”

River at Ely

River Great Ouse at Ely

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – Ely

Denver – Saturday 20th September 10am

“A catchment based approach to the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment”

River at Denver

The Tidal River and New Bedford River at Denver

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – Denver

March – Saturday 20th September 2pm

“A catchment based approach to the Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment”

River at March

River Nene at March

Riverside Walk and Talk Invitation – March

Bookings are now being taken for the Riverside Walk and Talk events hosted by Cambridgeshire ACRE for the Water Care Partnership. Places are limited and so to book your place(s), please visit: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/walkandtalk. For more information on the work of the Water Care Partnership please visit www.watercarepartnership.wordpress.com. If you have any questions regarding any of the walks, please contact Jennie Thomas (Jennifer.thomas@cambsacre.org.uk or 01353 865044).