Strathard: a landscape to live, work and play

Summary

view of Loch lomondThis project aims to improve land and water management decisions in Strathard, a rural area of western Scotland located in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. In order to develop more sustainable and resilient land and water management plans, an ecosystems approach is being used. In its most basic form, an ecosystems approach is the acknowledgement that natural and human systems are interconnected. Nature provides many goods and services, from the food that we eat to natural flood management. By improving the way the land is managed we can increase the benefits we get from nature now and into the future.

In order to improve land management decisions an assessment of what benefits we currently gain from our surroundings is needed. Working with a number of project partners this project aims to achieve this using a range of techniques to gather information on ecosystems and their services. An important part of the ecosystems approach is taking into account the views of different stakeholder groups and local communities. We’re doing this using surveys, participatory GIS (geographic information systems) mapping, and community events.

The information gathered from the communities and stakeholders will be integrated with outputs from more detailed modelling of selected ecosystem services, using approaches developed by Forest Research’s Land Use and Ecosystem Services and Changing Physical Environment Science Groups.

The results will be used to evaluate and compare the effects of different land and water management actions. By considering the wider impacts and benefits of these actions, improved management decisions can be made which address the needs of the local communities whilst promoting sustainable use of the land.

Map of the Strathard area

Research objectives

  • Create strong working relationships and dialogue with local communities : The project aims to foster closer working relationships and partnerships between agencies, visitors, land owners, local businesses and the community in a joint approach in order to help us identify and trial land management and natural flood management solutions.
  • Carry out a standardised, transferable assessment : This project will assess ecosystem services using standardised approaches that can be used in other study areas, as recommended by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). We’re using the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) and European Nature Information System (EUNIS) habitat classification, both of which are international frameworks.
  • Collect data on ecosystem services: We are collecting data on provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services that are currently provided in Strathard. The project aims to take a broad and shallow approach in addition to more focused assessment in key areas. This will be achieved through a multi-stranded assessment. A range of techniques are being used to capture information on all CICES services while certain key services are being assessed using models and indicators which provide a more in-depth evaluation.
  • Collate and analyse data on service provision and ecosystem condition: The ability of an ecosystem to provide a service depends on both the type of ecosystem and its condition. Therefore, in addition to assessing the type of services different habitats provide we will evaluate the extent to which these services are provided and how the delivery of services might be affected by condition of the ecosystem.
  • 2015/2016 research objectives (subject to continued funding) Identify locations in the study area with high run-off: A key issue in the area is flooding and our hydrology team, who helped lead the ‘Slow the Flow’ project in Pickering, is providing information to help understand the potential use of Natural Flood Management measures, such as woody debris dams.
  • Combine the ecosystem service assessment with hydrological study: The results of both the ecosystem assessment and hydrological study will be used to identify locations in the study area suitable for Natural Flood Management based on both the physical characteristics and the current value of the location based on the services it provides and importance to the local community. The intention is to trial land and natural flood management measures in the Duchray catchment from 2017. 
  • Provide guidance on future management options: The results will be used to direct other land and water management in the area. For example, forest management and design plans in the study area will be able to better take into account ecosystem service provision, which will contribute to design plans which have multiple economic, environmental and social benefits.  

Results so far

During the first phase of this project we have developed methods to capture relevant information, and as part of this we have developed two online surveys, one for the local community and one for visitors. These were used in conjunction with public engagement material at the launch event in February 2016 at Kinlochard Village hall.

Status

The first phase of this programme commenced in October 2015. Actions will be implemented in the Duchray catchment in 2017 subject to planning and budget requirements.

Related Resources

Contact

Chloe Bellamy

Funders and partners

This project is co-funded by Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Forest Enterprise Scotland, with support from partnership agencies Stirling Council, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA), The Community Partnership and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

SEPA initiated this project following a request from the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment (RAFE) Delivery Board to improve joint working between public bodies. The Duchray catchment in Strathard was identified as a suitable trial location for developing a strategic level ecosystems service assessment to support sustainable decision making in land use and water management. The role of Forest Research is to conduct an ecosystem service assessment and identify potential suitable locations for action plans through data collection and analysis.

Forestry Commission policy

The Forestry Commission implements Government policy on both woodlandbiodiversity and sustainability