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Which case study (within or beyond the projects) provides the best demonstration of policy reform following investement in nature-based solutions (systemic, trans-disciplinary co-design & co-development for multiple purposes, monitoring and evidence of multiple benefits and effectiveness, co-financing and leveraging)


One case study that I would suggest is as follows:

Payments for ecosystem services - direct payments from the water companies to farmers to reduce pollution.

Led by Prof Brett Day (University of Exeter, UK) & Dr Ruth Welters (UEA,UK), with Westcountry Rivers Trust (UK NGO) and South West Water.

It is much cheaper (in the region of £1:£20) to prevent farm run-off, such as slurry from dairy cows, from entering the river in the first place, than it is for the water companies to remove it at the water treatment works.

In 2012, the UEA worked with the local rivers trust and water company in Cornwall, UK, to design and run a competitive scheme, where farmers bid for money to put in fences, build slurry pits and reduce soil loss to the river. The reason for running it as an auction was to get the best value for money - i.e. best environmental outcome for the best price.

Regulation links: the English water companies currently have a monopoly in the regional area they serve, so are highly regulated to protect customers. This is by the regulator OFWAT and is reviewed every 5 years.

In the previous 5-year period (2010-2015), some of the water companies started to work directly with farmers, but OFWAT only allowed them to invest in capital items - actual bits of kit or infrastructure that were written into the accounts.

Due to the success of schemes such as the Cornwall one, and with encouragement from the water companies such as SWW, OFWAT have totally changed the emphasis in the current reporting period. Now all the water companies have to trial catchment approaches (non-engineering projects) before they are allowed to upgrade or invest in new treatment works.

Posted on: 18 Dec 2015 - 16:05

Another case study I would suggest is:

Where to plant new trees to get the most value for everyone.

Led by Prof Ian Bateman & Prof Brett Day and team (now at University of Exeter, UK).

Governments in England, Scotland and Wales have committed to planting new trees. In the past, these have been planted in upland, peatland areas, which had low farming value. But this is now known to be a bad idea because peatlands are a huge store of carbon and disturbing this by planting trees releases the carbon to the air.

On the other hand you can't plant trees on the highest value farmland either, because the return on the tree 'crop' is very low. So where should you plant them?

If you take into account the other benefits that the trees provide to society, such as carbon capture, a place for wildlife and for people to visit, then their value to society is much larger.

Ian Bateman, Brett Day and their team devised a model that takes into account all these different variables, and shows the best locations for planting new trees to maximise their value in Britain. They also give an estimate of the value of this in £ to the UK economy:

'Converting almost 7,000 km2 of land (an area larger than the size of Cumbria) to forest could generate an value to society of £500 million annually'.

Policy links - the team is working with policy makers in England, Scotland and Wales to understand how the tool can best support decision-making in this area.

NB: Whilst the current tool has been developed for Britain, the principle can be used for any country or region with sufficient data.

Posted on: 18 Dec 2015 - 16:05