A new year is all about reflecting on what we have achieved and looking forward to what is to come, so it was perfect timing to attend the ‘End of LIFE’ conference for another great LIFE project – Natural Course

Morgan (left) from Natural England and Victoria (right) from Environment Agency went along to the conference to see what they could learn…

The ripple effect

Hearing what others have managed to accomplish as their project comes to a close was perfect timing, as we are nearing the half way point of our own LIFE R4ever Kent project. It helps us to take stock of what we have done ourselves, as well as share learning in order to make our work for nature bigger and better – that is what LIFE is all about.

Following an introduction by Craig Higson, the Natural Course Programme Manager, we got to hear some inspiring talks from Dr Colm Bowe and Anna Kilty, who gave a fascinating talk on North West Ecosystem Service Opportunity Mapping (FCRM).

We then got to hear from Daniel Johns of Water Resources East and Richard Blackwell from Water Resource West about taking a holistic landscape scale approach to water management. This involved considering public and private finance, planning and weaving natural capital in amongst it all to deliver for nature and development. In addition to new Landscape Recovery Schemes and Local Nature Recovery Plans, many other partnership projects like our own LIFE R4ever Kent and those being built with the private sector are all helping to ensure that our rivers are connected to the landscape they sit within for species, habitats and humans together.

At the end of LIFE Natural Course conference

The circle of LIFE

The highlight of the day was meeting so many people from various organisations, discussing strategy with DEFRA representatives and the nitty gritty of delivery with new Natural England contacts, as well as making new acquaintances with other NGOs such as Wild Fish.

We were able to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the use of the North West basemapping and opportunity work, and we are looking forward to bringing it to our discussions on how to integrate and steer project works with those of the Catchment Partnership, River Restoration Strategy, Local Nature Recovery Network and new Landscape Recovery scheme.

Hearing from such an inspiring long-term project where partners have pulled together across organisations to bring all their own strengths to really make a difference in our river habitats was a wonderful way to start our mid-term year for LIFE R4ever Kent. It helps affirm how important our own work is, and makes us proud of our own partnership. We are all part of this ripple effect of learning and bringing about change for our rivers.

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