Developing sustainable approaches to environmental recovery through integrated land and water management has never been so vital. The UK Government’s 25-year environment plan sets out ambitious goals for improving the environment within a generation and leaving it in a better state than we found it. With the pressure to tackle climate change and protect the environment at the top of national and global agendas, the need for integrated, multi-partner management is gaining traction.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is developing a new outcomes-focused Environmental Land Management Scheme which is set to transform the way the UK manages its landscape. Prioritising environmental services alongside agricultural productivity, issues such as soil health, flood risk management and biodiversity recovery will need to be managed in a more integrated way, involving a diverse range of stakeholders from farmers to business owners. Meanwhile, the EU Water Framework Directive is driving innovative approaches and transforming the way we manage water across the country. Water and land challenges are increasingly tackled together.
Yet what would an effective governance structure for this new integrated approach look like? Against a backdrop of Brexit, how can we ensure that enough funding is in place to deliver this ambitious agenda? And are we on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals that commit us to deliver clean water and sanitation, and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems by 2030?