Team RaNTrans visiting Life WaDer sites

A visit to the Life Wader project to share learning from our project was an ideal start for this year. Our colleagues visited sites in Holy Island and Budle bay where the water quality and ecology are impacted by high nutrients (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as leaching hazardous minerals from redundant coal mines). The impact of eutrophication is monitored, and the project is researching nature-based solutions (nbs) to remediate these substances from source to receptor sites at sea and areas of transitional waters, such as estuaries.

This research is very important because these areas are large Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that are designated under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives as the area supports several important habitats (for seagrass, saltmarsh, shellfish, etc) and waterbird populations. Also, contributing to achievement of our clean water targets in river basin management plan and the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations 2017. You can learn more about the RaNTrans project and Life Wader project here.

British Phycological Society (BPS) Conference Newcastle Highlights

At this year’s British Phycological Society (BPS) conference (25-27th Jan) the theme was “Phycology in a Changing World and Citizen Science”. Zoe Morrall presented on update of effectiveness of removing algal mat seaweed from coastal transitional waters using mechanical methods. She explained that many studies have suggested direct mat removal as a cost effective and immediate solution to begin to achieve nutrient reduction. However, no studies have assessed the efficacy and impact of removing algal mats from intertidal mudflats. During the summer of 2022 at four sites in the England-France Channel region (2 UK and 2 French), our teams at RaNTrans assessed the success and ecological effects of removing approximately 400 m2 of algal mat using a floating boat platform. Data on removal efficiency and the re-establishment of algal mat on these sites are being collected. Subsequent repeated sampling of the sites over 6 months is being monitored to better understand both short and longer-term effects including: algal mat recovery, sediment changes, benthic community and feeding or wading bird behaviour. The BPS conference was well attended with experts in these fields from across UK, Europe and North America, also additional presentations about the various nature-based solutions (nbs) being used to remediate nutrients and restoring water quality as well as biodiversity.

“Green Seaweed Mat Dynamics in The Channel Region, Genetic Identification, Abundance, and Seasonal Nitrogen Storage” was the presentation made by our Dr Annesia Lamb from Bournemouth University. Her work using biotechnological analysis revealed that not all green macroalgae are Ulva some might be Chaetomorpha, and this is the valuable reason for having genetic identification in our research programmes. Techniques such as next generation sequencing (NGS) and cleaved amplified polymorphic sequences (CAPS) assay were used with bulk sample collected to identify seaweed species. Percent nitrogen showed that maximum nitrogen removal using seaweed would occur during the summer months with a percent N as high as 4.5%. You can learn more about the RaNTrans project and the BPS work here

All partners together at the end of project meeting CEVA, France

March 28th, 2023, is the time when all partners of the RaNTrans project converged at the CEVA – Algae Technology and Innovation Centre in France for our end of project meeting and presentations of research results. This final meeting of the partners was well attended with some persons joining online due to domestic strike action in France and our larger group attending in-person after hours of traveling by ferry and car. Overall this was a spectacular as well as rewarding session for all, not only because of the interesting results being presented, but because it was great to see most of our colleagues in person and to continue the necessary conversations that are essential in understanding how the research processed are being implemented to drive the improvements in nutrient remediation and restoration of water quality and connected ecosystems, as well as add further social and economic value across the channel regions.

Our work promises to contribute towards reducing nutrients in the FCE percentage of Transitional and Coastal (TAC) water bodies and making significant contributions (20%) towards achieving Good Ecological Status (GES) in line with England Water Environment policies and EU Water Framework Directive.

The need to reduce the nutrient impact from wastewater and agriculture highlights the growing importance of the results from our work to restore water quality and the connected ecosystem, some of which supports habitats and species of conservation concerns.

Further funding is an important element that is needed

Further funding is an important element that is needed, perhaps from private and public partnerships for upscaling the project results and unleashing the multiple benefits that are expected such as, optimising seaweed culture and European oyster aquaculture; algal mat removal for wider beneficial uses – feeding algal mats to polychaete worms and converting these to aquaculture feed, and more. There is much to be gained for these green investments in nature-based solutions. Marine net gain (MNG) is a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) approach that could achieved by upscaling these research results.

According to Natural England “Broadly speaking, MNG aims to put the marine environment into recovery by requiring that all in-scope developments leave the environment in a measurably better state than before, thereby firmly embedding environmental improvement into the heart of infrastructure planning and development. There is significant interest in developing an approach to delivering Net Gain in the marine environment from a range of stakeholders across marine industry, public bodies, and NGOs. As with BNG, Natural England is very supportive of this work, and we recognise the enormous opportunity this offers to help put our seas back on the road to recovery”

Nutrient credits for trading within nutrient neutrality schemes is one return on investments that the various investing stakeholders could expect, as well as further contributions towards net zero and BNG targets.

Please get in touch with the RaNTrans project team to discus these opportunities.

Interreg FCE final programme conference 2023

The Eden project in Cornwall was the location on 16th March 2023, where all Interreg FCE projects converged to share highlights from their work. There is great gratitude for this programme. Over its lifetime the Programme has committed €228.2 million to a wide range of projects, which support innovation, developing low carbon technologies and improving the attractiveness of the FCE area. Around 130 project members and guest from universities, local authorities, central government, government agencies and industry (marine, heritage/culture, science/healthcare) attended this final programme conference. Professor Judith Petts gave the keynote message that hold some promise of more UK and European territorial research cooperation based on the Windsor Framework. More details are available the Interreg FCE webpages.

Green Financing for upscaling and partnerships

Greening finance or financing green is the movement to energise new sources of finance into the protection and restoration of the environment and nature. Market mechanisms (such as Biodiversity Net Gain, carbon, or nutrient trading schemes) at large landscape scales, covering land and marine that facilitate buyers pay for environmental outcomes.

Return on investments for environmental benefits need to be made clear to investors

The focus is on supporting environmentally beneficial activity where investor-generated funds are being used for projects that deliver environmental outcomes and a return for the investor. Though these options offer great opportunities, there are challenges where investors need substantial supply of projects at scale that provides good return on investment (ROI at scale), as well as clarity on the wider benefits that they may purchase. Check out these funding options (e.g., Sovereign Green Bond, Green savings bonds, impact bonds, and private schemes – Big Nature Investment Fund – BNIF (defra)) and further details in the following sections

Looking ahead towards funding and partnerships will require understanding of the following elements of green financing;

By guiding the development of partnerships in nature markets and supporting all stakeholders to access them, we can secure a resilient future for vibrant businesses that produce sustainable food, build affordable homes, reduce nutrient pollution, and deliver environmental benefits.

New plan and more investment for cleaner and more plentiful water.

Biodiversity Net Gain to be introduced from November 2023 in England helping deliver a future for people and nature

Consultation on the Principles of Marine Net Gain, which aims to put the marine environment into recovery. It will do so by requiring that all in-scope developments leave the environment in a better state than before, and thereby firmly embed environmental improvement into the heart of infrastructure planning and delivery.

£18 million Species Recovery Programme Capital Grant Scheme opens for application from 3 April 2023 for six weeks; targeted conservation action through the creation, enhancement and improvement of specific wildlife habitats, conservation translocations – whereby native at-risk species are moved or released from one geographic area to another to boost populations – as well as supporting research and creating solutions to address species decline.

The Big Nature Impact Fund (BNIF) investing £30 million of seed capital, which will attract private sector investment into a range of nature projects in England; and will be supported by the Environment Agency.

Valuing Nature Programme – Demystifying Green Finance

UK Government Green Finance Strategy

Esmée Fairburn report: funding opportunities for the natural environment

New Water Restoration Fund support more projects that improve the environment – £1.6 billion of extra infrastructure investment to help tackle these issues across the country, particularly on storm overflows from Cornwall to Cumbria.

The Nature Markets Framework and the new Green Finance Strategy, set out some elements of how government will fund environmental improvements and restoration.

Natural England’s Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, devised to protect our waterways from pollution and enable home building, has now launched.

 Find out more!

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Please get in touch if would like to share your thoughts on any on this information.