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Environmental Change Network CCU - NR0155

This project aims to continue the provision of the UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) Central Coordination Unit (CCU) in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council so that in provides quality assured standardised data from monitoring of a range of environmental variables across a complex network of 12 terrestrial, 45 freshwater and 41 Integrated Monitoring sites ranging from lowland agricultural and woodland ecosystems, to the high mountains ( )

ECN provides a key element of UK LWEC-related scientific National Capability with respect to the detection and interpretation of long-term environmental change in terrestrial and freshwater habitats. It conducts fine temporal scale, physical, chemical and biological measurements. Monitoring is coordinated by the CCU at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology who quality-control, archive, assess, and make data available for teaching, research and policy advice, the resulting data also provides validation of other monitoring schemes. The CCU also communicate ECN activities to sponsor, policy-maker, scientific and educational audiences through the ECN website, e-newsletters and occasional brochures and fliers, while scientific findings are published in the scientific literature, and presented at conferences.

The ECN Steering Committee comprises representatives from the thirteen sponsoring organisations that support individual monitoring sites and measurements, and Defra. ECN data provide evidence of environmental status and change to a range of projects and programmes that inform decision making across a range of science and policy areas. These include large-scale ecosystem assessments, e.g. the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA), reviews of key impacts and predictions of responses to future scenarios, e.g. Review of Transboundary Air Pollutants (RoTAP); other monitoring networks that operate at different temporal or spatial scales, e.g. the UK Countryside Survey, and larger integrated assessment projects such as Defra’s biodiversity climate change impacts project Bicco-Net.

In the light of policy developments relating to the publication of the National Ecosystem Assessment and Follow On,, the Natural Environment White Paper and the first Climate Change Risk Assessment there is a need to review and develop ECN CCU activities and outputs to ensure that the ECN is able to contribute to an increasing need for reliable, easily accessible and scientifically supported environmental data. There is also considerable potential for ECN data to contribute to a wider range of programmes including development and implementation of European Directives on habitats, biodiversity, soil and water.

There are two core elements to the proposed project. First, is the continued day-to-day planning, coordination, data collation, quality assurance, processing, analysis and dissemination activities to a consistently high standard. Second, is project development with respect to: a) revising ECN strategic documents for the period up to 2017; b) improving the efficiency of data management, c) increasing the visibility, accessibility and interoperability of ECN data; d) development of new ECN “data products” to most effectively summarise and communicate the environmental, social and economic significance of trends at ECN; and, e) the management and integration of data from the Natural England and Countryside Council for Wales-led integrated monitoring networks, within the ECN data system.

Outputs include the updated quality assured and accessible long term data series, a report to Defra as well as interaction and scientific validation of other projects such as the LWEC climate change indicator report cards and Countryside Survey, but also in delivery of objectives in Biodiversity 2020 and the National Adaptation Programme, to increase the evidence base.
The chief aim of this proposal is to maintain and develop aspects of the ECN CCU of direct importance to Defra in informing on the character, causes and consequences of environmental change within the UK, and in so doing make tangible contributions to the aims of the NEWP, Climate Risk Assessment and other policies and directives. The main aims of this proposal are represented by the seven Work Packages outlined below. Additional costed options include: a major upgrading of the ECN freshwater biological potential through the archiving and analysis of the large ECN epilithic diatom sample set; a statistically gap-filled ECN meteorological dataset ; an upgraded ECN soil database; an end of Project workshop to mark an assessment the first 20 years of ECN data; and, development of a network of acoustic and photographic sensors across the ECN network.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : NR0155   (31k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2014

Cost: £394,650
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Centre For Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
Adapting to Climate Change              
Analytical Chemistry              
Analytical Quality Control              
Climate Change              
Diffuse Pollution              
Ecosystem Service              
Environmental Change              
Long-Term Monitoring              
Natural Environment              
Water Quality