15 August 2014
Article by Nia Seaton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
Upon launching the Glastir land management scheme, the Welsh Government commissioned the Glastir Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (GMEP) to monitor Glastir’s progress towards a range of national and international environmental targets. The first year annual report of the GMEP was published in May. The GMEP, a four year programme led by the Natural Environment Research Councils’ Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Bangor, is described by the authors of the report as:
the largest and most in-depth ecosystem monitoring and evaluation programme of any Member State and Managing Authority within the European Union.
The GMEP measures the impacts of the Glastir scheme on the landscape through surveys of 360 one km squares across Wales. Models are developed that synthesise information on the area of ‘Glastir land’ within each surveyed square, along with data from specialist monitoring programmes and knowledge on the state and sensitivity of the environment, to estimate future outcomes at landscape scales. This should allow the Welsh Government to explore the potential impact of different Glastir land management options and subsequently adjust its Glastir priorities.
The GMEP report gathered evidence on all of the five intended outcomes of the Glastir scheme: climate change mitigation, improvement to water quality, a halt in the decline of biodiversity, improved woodland management and greater access to the Welsh landscape, and improved condition of historic features.
Some of the main achievements of the GMEP in its first year included:
- The completion of the first year of survey, which covered 60 one km squares and involved habitat, plant, bird, and pollinator surveys;
- The development of three different models to project the potential impacts of six Glastir land management options (e.g. Retain Winter Stubbles, Grazing Management of Open Country) at local and national scales;
- Assessment of greenhouse gas sources and carbon sequestration;
- The construction of 3D datasets which take into account both landscape topography and small-scale landscape features;
- Field protocols were agreed and implemented for recording and mapping of woodland habitat.
Plans for year two of the GMEP include an expansion of the survey area from 60 to 90 squares, an analysis of the impacts of Glastir woodland measures on ecosystem services and biodiversity, and the development of landscape visualisations to illustrate future landscape changes of the Glastir target sites.
Additionally, a GMEP website will be launched in April 2015 which will display the published field survey results and model outputs.
Initial findings from the modelling suggest that the potential impact of different interventions range from 0.1 – 10% change at the national scale. However, the primary objective in the first year of the GMEP was to establish and demonstrate the use of the models and future work will prioritise the analysis of model outputs.