Water Ambition: Eden catchment (Cumbria)

Healthy ecosystems are vital to ensuring clean and safe water, nutrient rich, stable soil for farmers and for the long-term health of indigenous wildlife and biodiversity. All of these factors are important to businesses as they impact on the supply of natural resources, manufacturing processes, transportation and supply chain; so healthy ecosystems are essential for long term business and environmental sustainability.

By understanding the shared value of natural assets to businesses, and facilitating collaboration between business, suppliers, farmers and delivery partners, local networks can be developed to better manage the landscapes they operate within. Increasing understanding of the benefits and returns for farmers, communities, businesses and the environment of better landscape management will provide a business incentive to invest resource in nurturing healthy ecosystems.

Water Ambition project

In the Eden catchment, BITC are working using the landscape enterprise network analysis (LENs) to establish the commercial interest for a network of businesses. The LENs approach has been developed by BITC, Nestle and 3Keel and an assessment for Cumbria was undertaken in 2017, establishing the shared interests of six businesses in the area. In the next phase this analysis will be expanded to more businesses, to deepen understanding of how business values natural assets in this catchment. Collaborative investment in protecting and developing these areas would provide a return for these businesses and contribute to the long-term health and sustainability of the Eden Catchment.

There are four stages to this work

  1. Introductory meeting with business (March – April)
  2. Detailed conversation and LENs analysis (April – May
  3. Identifying opportunities for business contribution (May – June)
  4. Agreement of collaborative action plan (July) 

As the catchment pioneer for the Government’s 25-year environment plan this is a high-profile catchment which has the opportunity to inform policy at the national level. Additionally, this project will leverage world class research. This includes existing research from the UK demonstration test catchment and new research from Resilient Dairy Landscapes Programme, led by N8 universities.  A range of interventions have already been established to address soil, water and habitats. This research will monitor and evaluate the impact of these interventions, demonstrating the value of animal welfare and environmental management interventions for businesses within the catchment.

The team are already working with a number of partners, including First Milk, United Utilities, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), Rivers Trust, Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) and Natural England to help deliver this programme. 

Contact Katie Spooner at BITC to find out more and get involved.

Find out about other collective action projects here.