There is a need to develop collaborative frameworks that link management of currently ‘separate’ domains such as catchments, coastal zones and open seas (Natural Capital Initiative 2015). An upcoming NCI Dialogue entitled ‘Natural capital without boundaries’ will look at ways to integrating natural capital management of land catchments, coastal zones and open seas across artificial divides such as administrative boundaries.

Since Defra introduced a catchment based approach in 2013, partnerships between statutory bodies, water companies, NGOs, business and industries and communities have become the new normal in water management. Working in partnership can be an effective way to communication, influence and action in water management. Collaboration can be driven by legislation, however, many voluntary partnerships also work successfully.

Prof Ed Maltby chairs the Devon Maritime Forum, a partnership with more than 700 members from over 230 organisations across all marine sectors. At the natural capital summit Valuing our Life Support Systems 2014 he emphasised that in order to succeed partnerships need to encapsulate different views from a broad and balanced membership reflecting all interests. A ‘forum voice’ needs to condense findings and make recommendations for the management of the area in question.

The session Prof Maltby chaired at the summit found that scientific findings and evidence provided by local stakeholders are crucial ingredients for management on large scales such as catchments, coastal zones or open seas. Working together provides additional value and sharing data allows identifying underlying environmental problems and ways to fix these more effectively. Even when partnerships are voluntary, they can be sustained when participants see and understand the value of the partnership. Taking an ecosystem approach allows wide participation and the co-construction of both assessments and solutions to challenges in the managed area.

The upcoming NCI is being organised by Prof Mike Acreman, Science Area Lead, Natural Capital at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), and partner representative for CEH in NCI, and Prof Ed Maltby, emeritus professor at the University of Liverpool, and, among many other things, member of the NCI Steering Group. The workshop will build on the discussions at the natural capital summit which highlighted the importance of further integrating catchments, coastal zones and open seas in managing and safeguarding our natural capital. The workshop will focus on identifying good practices to overcome constraints, achieving novel solutions, and exploiting new opportunities in collaboration. The outcomes of this Dialogue will inform draft guidelines for improved management of natural capital through enhanced cooperation, and how to achieve more effective facilitation and coherence of partnership working.

You can read an informal report of the meeting here.

Further reading:
Natural Capital Initiative 2015: Valuing our Life Support Systems 2014. Summit Summary Report.
Devon Maritime Forum 2014: Holding the line? A Summary Report from the Devon Maritime Forum.
Celtic Seas Partnership project website
United Utilities Catchment Wise Projects

About the author: Daija Angeli is Project Officer for the Natural Capital Initiative.