Environmental infrastructure & ecosystem services

We are the leading experts in the design and delivery of ecosystem services-led initiatives. This includes collating and synthesising data and information to support evidence-led planning and policy decisions to delivering Paid Ecosystem Services initiatives in an ethical broker role.

Key Projects

DEFRA – An Ecosystem Services Approach for the Urban Water Environment (ESSUWE)

River Wandle

This project will draw on best practice from community groups, industry and academia to reshape and build on our existing Ecosystem Services (ESS) visualisation tools and techniques. This exciting project will support Defra’s Urban Diffuse Pollution strategy and the Catchment Based Approach, as well as Defra’s Water Availability & Quality Evidence Plan.
ESSUWE Leaflet

Ecosystem Services ReviewsTE_Services_EcIA

A method for undertaking stakeholder-led spatial visualisation of ecosystem services provisioning areas across a catchment landscape.

Willingness-to-Pay for Ecosystem Benefits (EA)

ESP staff led the technical delivery of this study for the Environment Agency to develop a conceptual framework to connect cited reasons for WFD failure, via the pressures they exert, to degradations in the quality of six different ecosystem components. By incorporating willingness-to-pay data from a comprehensive national survey, the framework developed could be used to estimate the potential willingness-to-pay for addressing different reasons for failure, either individually or in combination, and the environmental benefit realised at the waterbody, catchment, regional and national scales.

The processes developed have now been used to support the development of the Environment Agency’s Water Appraisal Guidance through providing a structured and transparent approach to assessing the willingness-to-pay for non-market benefits.


NEP Catchment Investigations (South West Water)

Between 2011 and 2013, South West Water engaged the Westcountry Rivers Trust to undertake all 17 of their National Environment Programme (NEP) Catchment Investigations. The project objective was to provide SWW with detailed pollution risk assessment and source apportionment evidence to inform their proposed future catchment management projects that are designed to achieve raw water quality improvements.

In order to deliver the Catchment Investigations, WRT developed a scalable methodology that can be adapted to meet the specific requirements of any study catchment. They also provided targeted and fully costed intervention strategies for each catchment, each designed to achieve the most significant improvements in water quality using the most cost-effective and resource efficient approach.


Nutrient Source Apportionment Modelling (South West Water)

ESP were commissioned to compare model outputs from the national Source Apportionment GIS (SAGIS) tool and the Extended Export Coefficient Model (ECM+) on the River Tamar above South West Water’s abstraction point at Gunnislake Bridge. The underlying data and model assumptions were reviewed to explain differences between the calculated loads and concentrations of nutrient inputs. Outputs were also compared to estimates derived from long-term water quality monitoring data. This study provided a robust evidence-base to support discussions with the EA and inform future catchment management decisions.


Strategic Evidence & Partnership (DEFRA)

In this strategic project ESP staff illustrated how, through the development of a targeted and cost-effective programme of monitoring, diagnosis and catchment management intervention, Rivers Trusts can facilitate the delivery of river waterbodies into good condition at a local, catchment or sub-catchment scale. The findings of this project were presented to the DEFRA Chief Scientist, DEFRA Water Quality team and senior Environment Agency staff in London in November 2011 and, ultimately, it helped to shape DEFRA’s Catchment Restoration Fund and Catchment-Based Approach initiatives.


Ecosystem Services Mapping (Various)

ESP staff have significant experience in the mapping and assessment of environmental infrastructure and the identification of areas important for the provision of multiple ecosystem services.

This approach includes spatial mapping of areas and infrastructure important for: (1) water quality provision (for ecological health and drinking water treatment); (2) water quantity regulation (high flows and base flows); (3) greenhouse gas regulation; (4) habitats and ecological networks, and (5) recreation and leisure (‘green’ and ‘blue’ infrastructure).

Our ecosystem services mapping methodology (which was initially developed during the EU Interreg-funded WATER Project on the Tamar, Torridge, Taw and Exe catchments) was refined during the stakeholder-led preparation of the Tamar Catchment Plan. Since then it has also been used for a number of other projects at a number of different scales, including Exmoor National Park and the Tamar AONB.