The Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) is an exciting five year partnership programme, which was launched last July and is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.
Even though it is hosted by the University of Leeds, iCASP is not funding academic research. Instead it is resourcing projects to turn existing environmental research into something accessible and useful to practitioners and communities. Such projects have to be co-designed by iCASP partners such as the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, Yorkshire Water, the Environment Agency and others, with academics.
Although iCASP doesn’t fund external organisations directly, the programme can cover secondment costs if this particular channel for knowledge exchange is integral to the project’s effectiveness.
By addressing challenges such as flooding, drought, peat degradation, deterioration in water and soil quality and climate resilience, the programme aims to realise significant regional economic and social benefits. In addition, iCASP hopes to export best practice across the UK and internationally.
One of iCASP’s first projects focuses on Yorkshire’s Defra-funded Natural Flood Management pilot projects, one of which is in the Calder Valley. Academics from the Universities of York and Leeds will be helping some of the groups running these pilots with modelling expertise and advice on how to set up the most appropriate monitoring systems to gather data about water flow rates.
This will be important for measuring the effectiveness of different measures such as leaky woody dams, buffer strips and tree planting. The project will also help the Environment Agency to road test guidance it has recently published on working with natural processes. Furthermore, a collation of the information on project effectiveness will help to build a regional evidence-base for the Environment Agency.
The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust (YDRT) is one of 16 partners who helped to develop the iCASP Programme and now, with the rest of the iCASP governance group, approve and shape the projects that will be supported.
The Governance Group also suggests topics for workshops to bring together people who can commit time and resources to developing project ideas and managing any projects that are successful. For example, iCASP has recently run a workshop on making the business case for green infrastructure and another on agricultural land use for the delivery of public goods.
However, not all projects need to evolve from a workshop. New ideas for the translation of research into something that can meet the knowledge needs of practical work across the catchment are always welcome.
More information about project development is available on the iCASP website: www.icasp.org.uk/projects/ and the iCASP team are happy to be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.