The ecosystems approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water, and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. The approach places human well-being as the central focus for assessment, while recognizing that biodiversity and ecosystems also have intrinsic value and that people take decisions concerning ecosystems based on considerations of well-being as well as intrinsic value. Within their Five Year Strategy Defra pledge to adopt an integrated and strategic (ecosystem) approach to identify and address the causes of environmental degradation.
This project will focus on a site specific case study, Chimney Meadows, in order to review, evaluate and provide recommendations on the applicability of the principles of the ecosystem approach to a protected area in England.
Chimney Meadows Nature Reserve (NGR SP352000) is near Bampton on the banks of the River Thames in west Oxfordshire. The site includes 50 hectares of National Nature Reserve (NNR), is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), lies within the Upper Thames Tributaries Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and is also a local Wildlife Trust reserve.
Within this case study the value of these ecosystem services as well as the wide range of actual or potential impacts (including inter alia transport, climate change, flooding, housing, food production, waste and tourism) which affect the site will be considered.
In order to deliver on the overall goal, the case study has the following four objectives:
1. To demonstrate approaches for identifying policy objectives for a protected site that takes into account the
views of stakeholders, including the owners (BBOWT), visitors, local residents, local farmers, local
authorities, Thames Water, the Environment Agency and Defra.
2. To demonstrate a method for measuring, predicting and communicating the actual and potential cumulative
impacts of different stressors on these policy objectives, based upon common monetary and ecological
currencies. These impacts will include transport (road and river traffic), flooding, housing, farming (grazing,
machinery use, nutrient and pesticide impacts) and climate change.
3. To demonstrate a method for identifying, predicting and valuing the ecosystem services provided by the site.
The ecosystem services will be defined by the criteria contained in EFTEC (2006) and Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment (2003) and evaluated through analysis of technical concepts undertaken in
Geographic Information System (GIS).
4. To evaluate the applicability of the principles of the ecosystem approach, as laid out by the MA, against the
current level of understanding of a protected area and to demonstrate a prioritisation framework for
balancing policy objectives against the value of ecosystem services and potential impacts that takes data
and model uncertainty into account.