Our target catchment
We focus on one specific geographic region around Conwy in North Wales, typical of many rural areas supporting important industries including agriculture, forestry, tourism and fishing but facing huge challenges brought about by climate change and conflicting demands on land/ water resources. The Conwy river rises in the Snowdonia National Park, in the Migneint range, which has high rainfall providing water resources and important carbon storage and biodiversity in peatland habitats. The Conwy flows through intensive agricultural land out to an estuary important for the shellfish industry, conservation and tourism. The lower Conwy was recently in the national news due to intensive flooding of several larger towns. Such extreme events are consistent with climate change predictions. The major shellfisheries and tourist beaches close to the Conwy estuary are continually subject to contamination and risk of closure or loss of blue flag status due to microbial pollution from rural wastewater treatment plants and agricultural runoff. These pollution events are becoming increasingly frequent and are also exacerbated by floods, storms in general and periods of drought.
One of the main challenges in the Conwy and many other catchments / landscapes is the potential conflict arising from the needs of different industries, e.g. agriculture, water, tourism and urban development and the need for decision support tools to future-proof against climate change. GDP associated with Wales and the UK indicate all are important to local and national economies to varying degrees, and balancing their requirements is a major challenge for both government and industry alike. In the past 'silo management' has often resulted in a development by one industry negatively impacting on a second (e.g. intensification of agriculture reducing water quality) and there is a move towards more holistic consideration of these challenges (cf. Natural Environment White Paper). However, a major problem identified in delivering this vision is the fragmented and inaccessible nature of the resources (i.e. data, models, tools) needed for a more integrated approach.
The Environmental IoT project provides a major opportunity to fill this gap bringing together data and assets from across different domains (soil, water, plant ecology, animals) and organisations (e.g. public, regulatory, industry) to enable integrated problem solving for the agriculture and water industries but with clear potential to link to other critical industries in the future.
This project was supported by EPSRC grant EP/L023636/1 which is related to EP/L023555/1 and EP/L023237/1