CaBA CDUG Forum on data updates

With the current Covid-19 situation, a lot of us are adapting to new working spaces and methods. Last week, the Environment Agency and Rivers Trust ran a successful teleconference providing a virtual forum for the Catchment Data User Group (CDUG). 43 participants from a range of organisations and authorities attended the telecom, offering the chance to share knowledge and experience, and update the group on data developments and usage.

Tamsin Appleton (EA) and Lucy Butler (Rivers Trust) opened the session, which saw 4 presentations and demonstrations of how organisations have been using data to develop new ways of sharing trends, demonstrating patterns and offering platforms for visual, spatial data analysis. This was followed by a quick update on a few other tools and portals available.

The first demonstration was from Jamie Hannaford, showing the CEH UK Water Resources Portal that tracks the latest hydrological situation across the UK. (link). The portal offers real time data on water flows and monitoring across the water cycle. Jamie demonstrated examples of various data, including current river flow status. He showed how you can select catchments and compare time series river flow data for certain years, providing information on historical drought. You can also layer datasets on top of each other graphically and see how different features change temporally. There is a webinar in a few weeks (18th May 2020) for help and advice on how to use this portal - sign up here.

Secondly, Michelle Walker presented on the Catchment Monitoring Cooperative, looking to encourage a local collaborate evidence base in every catchment. This scheme aims to demonstrate that all Catchment Partnerships can deliver robust, cost-effective monitoring programmes. Michelle mentioned the CaBA Citizen Science support tools, consultation and groundwork, and training that is available to Catchment Partnerships to help develop these programmes. There are a few barriers to Citizen Science and community monitoring such as data standards and consistency; opportunities for data analysis; action to resolve any issues found; and funding. If these obstacles can be minimised, Catchment Partnerships will have the opportunity to develop these schemes for volunteer monitoring.

Following this, we were introduced to the Environmental Land Management Systems (ELMS) Trial, by Pat Dreyer and Dan Geerah from FWAG SW. Pat firstly gave a presentation on this new payment methodology to replace the Basic Payment Scheme and Countryside Stewardship schemes. ELMS provides a tool to record and map Natural Capital. This tool demonstrates the public benefit provided by existing environmental measures on farmland. This creates a baseline of data to inform policy, schemes and development. Also, this helps instil a sense of community ownership of Natural Capital in the local area.

Dan gave a brief, but thorough demonstration of how to use the OS Land App platform for landscape scale spatial analysis. The platform seemed simple to navigate and input data to help build the information baseline. Landowners and farmers are able to download their land boundaries from the Rural Payments government website. These land boundaries can be imported into Land App to define clear boundaries, for landowners to see exactly where they could add more information about land use in their ownership. Features and details can be added about each chunk of land, allowing each landowner to contribute, as one piece of a catchment puzzle! Asking landowners to add descriptions of land use in each field enables them to develop a picture of what is happening across the catchment. Features that can be added include tracks, buffer zones, hedgerows, and different cultivations in each field. This allows us to see which areas are eligible for ELMS. Furthermore, future crops and features can be added to forecast what land would be eligible in the future, if land use practices were to change, or if enhancements were to be implemented. Moreover, this data can all be downloaded into a spreadsheet for further analysis of how much land is categorised as each land use or feature, and hence how much land might be eligible for ELMS. The platform offers advice and guidance links, help files and a chat function.

For more information visit

The final demo was from Chris Mainstone and Dave Gurnell on the Priority Habitats in England. Dave demonstrated website pages that allow Citizen Science contribution of case study data. Using software maintained by Cartographer, Citizen Scientists are able to login and input data for assessment. Dave & Chris showed how Naturalness Assessment Methods for rivers or lakes are used, based on data such as forms of assessment (such as MoRPh, RHS, simple visual) confidence class, and species of interest. From this, river restoration priority maps can be determined, depending on what elements of naturalness are needed for each particular site. This can help provide an indication of how to initiate a river restoration project to improve habitat and biodiversity.

Finally, we were given quick updates from various members of CDUG on how they have been using and updating data. Markedly, Catherine Mcilwrath provided an update on the Coastal Data Explorer, explaining that a range of datasets has been added to the platform. There will be a webinar in a few weeks (12th May 2020) explaining how to use the Explorer - Get started with the CaBA Coastal and Estuarine Online Data Package and Coastal Data Explorer webinar – sign up here.

It was great to be part of this telecom sharing data, experiences and new ways of utilising datasets to support understanding and raise awareness of environmental features.



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