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Environmental Change Network - CC0408

Description
The potential consequences of environmental change continue to be a major environmental issue and a priority for Government research. The need for a network for long-term, integrated environmental monitoring in the UK eventually led to the formation of the UK Environmental Change Network (ECN). The possible consequences of climate change are numerous and potentially dramatic, not least for agriculture. The impact of climate change on UK agriculture is clearly recognised in MAFF's Research Strategy Document 1996-2000 (MAFF, 1996), which states that the principal objective of the ‘Climate Change and Agriculture’ programme “is to provide the scientific basis for the establishment of UK agricultural policy on climate change by assessing the impact and identifying adaptation strategies….” This document also identifies a need for better scientific knowledge to underpin the framing of future regulations in support of MAFF's wildlife conservation policy.

ADAS has participated in the UK Environmental Change Network since it was formed in 1992, running the terrestrial site at Drayton in Warwickshire with financial support from MAFF/DEFRA. The proposed continuation of the ECN project at Drayton would directly contribute to MAFF’s stated wildlife conservation scientific objective “to identify the causes of declines in biodiversity on farmland” (MAFF, 1996), and also provide further valuable data relating to particular Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats and species for which DEFRA has specific responsibilities. The consultation document ‘MAFF Research Strategy 2001-2005’, published in August 2000, re-emphasises the need for continued climate-change related research and specifically refers to MAFF’s support for the ECN (MAFF, 2000).

The four overall objectives of the ECN are:
1. To obtain uniform and comparable long-term datasets at selected sites by means of measurement at regular intervals of variables identified as being of major environmental importance.
2. To provide for the integration and analysis of these datasets so as to identify environmental changes and to improve understanding of the causes of such changes.
3. To make these long-term datasets available as a basis for research and for the prediction of possible future changes.
4. To provide, for research purposes, a range of representative sites where there is good instrumentation and reliable environmental information.

If this proposal is successful, ADAS will continue to conduct detailed research and monitoring at Drayton according to the standard ECN protocols in operation at all 12 terrestrial ECN sites (Sykes & Lane, 1996).
Objective
The objectives of ECN are as follows (Sykes & Lane, 1996):

1. To obtain uniform and comparable long-term datasets at selected sites by means of measurement at regular intervals of variables identified as being of major environmental importance.

2. To provide for the integration and analysis of these datasets so as to identify environmental changes and to improve understanding of the causes of such changes.

3. To make these long-term datasets available as a basis for research and for the prediction of possible future changes.

4. To provide, for research purposes, a range of representative sites where there is good instrumentation and reliable environmental information.

Within the context of these objectives, ECN research at the DEFRA Drayton site has two general objectives:

1. To monitor long-term environmental change on a lowland agricultural site, by recording specified physical, chemical and biological variables using strict protocols.

2. To provide the ECN Central Co-ordinating Unit (CCU) with data sets collected from Drayton for integration and analysis with data from other ECN sites, and to make these data available as a basis for further research.

The more specific objectives of the DEFRA Drayton ECN site are as follows:

1. To maintain Drayton as a participating site within the UK Environmental Change Network.

2. To undertake long-term recording of climate, air pollution, precipitation and soil solution chemistry, soil characteristics, vegetation and fauna as defined in the relevant ECN protocols (Sykes & Lane, 1996).

3. To maintain an up-to-date computerised data-base for the Drayton site, and provide data to the ECN Central Co-ordinating Unit at CEH Merlewood.

4. To participate in the analysis, interpretation and publication of the combined results from the ECN programme.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Environmental Change Network   (165k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2004

Cost: £231,888
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
Climate and Weather              
Climate Change              
Environmental Protection              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship
Agriculture and Climate Change