There is a recognised need to develop co-operative water and land management strategies in order to tackle the twin challenges of increasing flood risk and habitat restoration of the wetland environment. Amongst other things, this requires research to improve the physical and social science evidence base for the effectiveness of catchment interventions and other such new policy proposals.
There is a dual requirement to pilot physical works and to test the social and economic aspects of developing these new policy directions, including the acceptability to the local communities involved of delivering such improvements on the ground. The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 requires this development of a better science evidence base for policy making, alongside increased stakeholder participation in sustainable flood risk management at the catchment scale. The 70 sq km catchment of the Eddleston Water, a tributary of The Tweed was chosen for a pilot study of how this might be achieved, and what costs and benefits would be derived from such work. The Centre, working with colleagues in the School of Environment was successful with their bid in 2009 to undertake this scoping work for Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Government and Tweed Forum. This formed Phase I of a project to restore the Eddleston Water for wildlife and the community. The partners delivered the Phase I scoping report in July 2010.
The Eddleston Water project Phase II aimed to deliver on the main two objectives of habitat restoration for improvement of WFD ecological status and improved natural flood risk management (NFM). It has done this by designing and implementing a series of physical interventions in the catchment, with a particular emphasis on both improving river habitats and addressing the sources and pathways of flooding. Areas of woodland have been planted, stretches of historically straightened river returned to a natural meandering course, and each carefully planned, measured and recorded, such that their effectiveness can be monitored over time. Indeed, the Eddleston is now becoming one of the most detailed studies of its type in Europe. The study has taken a catchment approach that will also realise benefits for water quality, fisheries, conservation of biodiversity, landscape and recreation. Early work has also been completed on assessing the delivery of other ecosystem service benefits alongside WFD improvements and NFM interventions
Phase III has just begun in 2013, led by the School of the Environment, while a separate project on River Rehabilitation for the delivery of multiple ecosystem services at the river network scale has just been completed by the Centre in combination with University of Stirling, leading to two publications on a conceptual framework for optimising the outcomes of river restoration, and an earlier one which reviewed the record of restoration projects at the reach and catchment scale across Scotland over the last 20 years.
Download an introductory flyer on the project
Partnership, Governance and Delivery for the Eddleston Water project is organised through a partnership of bodies under the chairmanship of SEPA. The other Board members are the Scottish Government, Tweed Forum and the University of Dundee, with further support from Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, British Geological Survey (BGS), Forestry Commission and the local community. Project management for all elements is delivered by Tweed Forum on behalf of the partners; read the Tweed Forum's newsletter where they describe becoming a central part of this UNESCO IHP-HELP programme.