A Combined Monitoring and Modelling Approach to Maximise Environmental, Social and Economic Outcomes from Agri-environment Subsidies at a National Scale

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:32 AM
Bridget Emmett1, Steven Anthony2, David Chadwick3, Paul Cross3, Ruth Swetnam4, Bethanna M Jackson5, Simon Smart1 and James Skates6, (1)NERC center for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, (2)ADAS Group Ltd, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, (3)Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom, (4)Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, (5)Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, (6)Welsh Government, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Planning, delivery and monitoring of integrated environmental, social and economic outcomes from agri-environmental payments to land owners has rarely been attempted at a national scale. Wales has launched one of the most ambitious projects ever within the EU to frame both delivery of payments and ongoing integrated assessment of outcomes within an ecosystem framework. Payment and evaluation activities are running simultaneously, which when combined with scenario analysis from a suite of biophysical and landscape quality models, allows for adaptive management as the scheme progresses. Social and economic benefits and constraints to uptake of scheme measures and desired outcomes are embedded within the project to ensure benefits to the wider population are realised.

Initial modelling results in the first year of the monitoring and evaluation programme quantified potential benefits from a range of management options offered under the subsidy scheme. At a national scale these ranged from: 1 to 9% improvement in flood mitigation; 5 to 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; increased accessible land for ‘generic’ broadleaf focal species by 3 to 12%, increased national carbon storage by ca. 0.4%, and reduced eroded soil and phosphorus delivery by up to 15% due to reduced connectivity of erodible land to rivers and lakes. Results at local / farm scales could be as high as 80% in some locations. A 75% improvement in habitat for selected 21 indicator plant species was also projected.

The inter-dependency between outcomes is being explored through a major integrated rolling monitoring programme taking co-located measurements of soil, vegetation, landuse, soils, water, birds and pollinators, GHG fluxes, landscape and historic features and farmer / landowner surveys using a stratified sampling approach across the country. In addition to scenario analysis, modelling is being used to upscale and integrate findings and to explore the extent of co-benefits and trade-offs between outcomes e.g. using the LUCI model.

The integrated monitoring and modelling approach will be presented together with an introduction to the model ensemble. Outputs from the initial scenario runs plus initial findings from the wider social and economic assessments and trade-off analysis will also be discussed.