BRICS

Building Resilience Into Catchments

BRICs is a research project that is taking an innovative approach to managing natural resources in the area, benefitting both communities and businesses in the locality.      

What is BRICS?

BRICS is a project that will:

  • Improve water, nutrient and habitat management on farms
  • Reduce the level of nutrients entering the Milford Haven Waterway
  • Create a nutrient trading scheme
  • Give potential for future investment opportunities in Pembrokeshire

BRICS will achieve this by:

  • Providing expert advice, guidance and support to farmers
  • Delivering nutrient focused advisory plans (for up to 30 farms)
  • Helping to secure funding for targeted nutrient soil mapping, precision farming and where applicable constructed farm wetlands
  • Developing a framework for creating an enterprise capable of running a nutrient based trading scheme that is able to:
    • pay land managers for undertaking actions that benefit the natural environment beyond regulatory requirement and
    • secure sustainable economic development and future investment opportunities
 

Why are we doing this?

The water in the Milford Haven Waterway and the surrounding Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation contains too much nitrogen and phosphorus. This means it fails to meet statutory water quality standards and the nutrient enrichment threatens important and protected wildlife and their habitats.

It also means that the waterway is considered “full” with no capacity to accept any additional input of nutrients, which is a potential barrier to any future development.

The BRICS approach is about preventing pollution from getting into watercourses rather than relying on ‘end of pipe’ solutions, like water treatment, while delivering other benefits for the economy and environment. 

BRICS takes a wider view of the environment and considers relationships between the environment and the people managing it.  This is an example of Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR).   Building resilience into catchments and the way they are managed means they will be better able to stand the effects of a changing climate and increased pressure and demands on land and river management.

The project will benefit farms, economically as well as environmentally, creating a business leader culture.

How will we know if it is working?

We believe that farmers deserve credit for doing good things.  A lot of small actions can add up to a big difference.

One of the project partners, RDK ADAS, will use their decision support software tool called “Farmscoper”, to quantify the reduction in diffuse pollutant losses from farms that are taking part in the project. We will also model potential additional reductions in pollutant losses that could be achieved by undertaking further actions that go over and

above regulatory requirements.  Setting up a nutrient trading scheme provides a mechanism for farmers to be paid for land management practices that deliver additional environmental benefit.

Where will it be happening?

We are focussing on three areas across Pembrokeshire:

  • Pelcomb Brook
  • Winterton Marsh, and
  • Llys y Fran

Working in these 3 diverse river sub-catchments, the project will test a voluntary approach to deliver nutrient focused pollution prevention advisory plans, highlighting opportunities and recommending actions to improve water and soil management on farms.

Who is involved?

The project partners include supply chain, land managers, industry, conservation organisations, farming unions, Welsh Water, farming cooperatives, authorities, Natural Resources Wales and communities working together to build resilience into farm businesses.  At the same time, the project will be contributing to sustainable economic development.

BRICS was developed and is funded through the Sustainable Management Scheme which is part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Emma Taylor
01834 860965