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A strategic programme for NERC Lowland catchment research
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Using our research

LOCAR research has many applications - for water and land managers, farmers, fishing clubs, wildlife and countryside organisations, local authorities, parish councils, planners, agricultural advisors, regulators and policy-makers. Here are some views on LOCAR research from the people and organisations that will use it.

A stream

Sustainable farming & local communities

Sheepdrove Organic Farm is on the Pang-Lambourn catchment studied by LOCAR. Measurements of evaporation, groundwater and soil moisture were made on the farm. Lois Philipps (who works with Sheepdrove at the Elm Farm Research Centre) said, "We were pleased to work with the LOCAR scientists. At Sheepdrove we appreciate that action on one part of a catchment may create impacts elsewhere. We need to know the connection between rain falling on the ground, and water in the underground aquifers and in the rivers. Only when we know how the catchment functions as a whole will we be able to manage it to create a healthy environment: sustainable farm management and sustainable water management go together."

Councillor Jeff Hopkins of Market Drayton has welcomed the way the LOCAR projects in the Tern catchment have given the local community a new understanding of the significance of their local river. Jeff said, "Having such high-level research going on in the community provides new information for all, from farmers to schoolchildren. If it helps them to use the land and water more sustainably, it is a good thing."

Regulating the environment

The Environment Agency regulates how catchments are managed in England and Wales. The Agency's Bob Harris has been following LOCAR research to ensure that they make full use of the results as soon as they appear. Bob said, "Our objective is sustainable water use and healthy aquatic ecosystems. LOCAR is changing the way we perceive lowland catchments - the processes controlling water and pollutant movement are far more dynamic than we had thought. LOCAR is providing us with a new appreciation of how permeable, lowland catchments function and with invaluable scientific underpinning to help us develop the regulatory framework we need."

The water industry

Thames Water is responsible for supplying water to some eight million customers in the south-east of England. The company is investing heavily to meet the increasing demands on the limited water resources available in the region. Brian Connorton of Thames Water said, "The low rainfall in the winter 2005-2006 has demonstrated the vulnerability of water resources in southern England to drought conditions. In planning for the future, water companies need to continue with the progress being made in using water more efficiently, while at the same time identifying and developing new environmentally sustainable yet cost-effective water sources. LOCAR results are helping us to make these investment decisions based on sound science."

Water for life - an international perspective

Mike Bonell is the former Chief of Section: Hydrological Processes and Climate within UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme (IHP). As the chair of LOCAR's steering committee he has been active in promoting LOCAR within the IHP as an example of a new integrated approach to catchment research. This approach is needed to tackle the global problem of supplying an increasing world population with clean, fresh water. Mike said, "Water is crucial for sustainable development, and 2005 to 2015 is the UN International Decade for Action Water for Life. The decade recognises the need for integrated water resource management and balancing the preservation of our natural environment with the alleviation of poverty and hunger. LOCAR is a model programme - it has shown how scientists can work together to provide water managers throughout the world with the knowledge they need. In that regard, LOCAR has a pivotal role incontributing to HELP, the IHP Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy Programme, and the associated IHP integrated science project."