In 2016 Environment Systems was involved in a pilot mapping project for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as part of its SoNaRR (State of Natural Resources Report) initiative. SoNaRR aims to be the first country-wide assessment of the health and resilience of ecosystems and the first assessment of the extent to which Wales is sustainably managing its natural resources. SoNaRR will also confirm the link between natural resources and the 7 well-being goals set out in the ‘Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.’
SoNaRR requires specialist spatial analysis of natural resources and ecosystems, in terms of both ecological resilience and the ecosystem services received from them. Under the new Environment Act there is a requirement for regional Area Statements to set out information to help people implement the Welsh Government Natural Resources policy. Following the pilot in 2016, Environment Systems and its partners embarked upon the next phase to expand the required spatial analysis element of this work. We are producing a framework and contribute to the Area Statements through the use of a number of defined use cases and scenarios to assess the resilience of natural resources and the opportunities for their management when faced with a range of threats. The methodology applied to the Area Statement spatial analysis starts from the basic premise that every parcel of land (or water) in Wales exerts an influence on every ecosystem service delivered. This is based on four main factors:
The land cover or habitat type and its condition
The geology and soil type underlying the land
The landscape context (e.g., on a steep slope or valley bottom)
How it is managed, i.e. none at all, little, intensive, extensive
This is an approach we have been pioneering elsewhere both in the UK and Ireland. Rather than focus on any one tool for the production of a specific set of maps, this project will seek to identify and formulate a framework that will help decision makers to take a holistic, ecosystem approach to the environment and to highlight the most beneficial, current options available to them.
Finally we have been commissioned to to incorporate the output from newly available datasets to create an ‘exposure mask’ for the whole of Wales. This covers frost risk, wind blow and salt spray in the coastal zone.