Welcome to the Western Network of the NWRM initiative.
The Western region (as defined for the purposes of this project) encompasses the Rhine basin (including parts of Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands), northern France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland. With the exception of the upper Rhine catchment, the region represents a predominantly temperate climate, with high rainfall particularly in the west. At higher altitudes in Switzerland and France, snow can comprise a significant proportion of annual precipitation, and in those regions some similarities to the Baltic region may be seen in terms of the influence of freezing and snowmelt on NWRM selection and effectiveness. Elsewhere, many areas are very low-lying, including the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of the eastern UK, and include widespread drained areas with intensive water management. There are areas of high population density and irrigated agriculture across the region, where there is high water demand.
The Western Network focuses on gathering examples and evidence relating to NWRM in Western Europe, and encourages discussion between experts and practitioners, in order to enable more effective implementation of NWRM.
Why a regional discussion forum?
The concept of NWRM is most familiar in the Western Region to people working in Natural Flood Management (NFM). NFM itself seeks to develop alternative solutions for flood management by making space for water, and as part of this process, considers the other benefits that may be achieved beyond flood risk reduction. The climatic and geographic conditions in Western Europe mean that NFM can often be synonymous with NWRM, although the primary aim will not always be driven by flood risk. Many of the presentations during the workshops focussed on measures implemented primarily for their flood risk benefits, but they all showed the desire and the challenges to look more widely and seek to develop holistic solutions.
The multidisciplinary nature of NFM and wider NWRM means that participants from multiple sectors and organisations may, and should, be interested in their implementation. This means that many factors have to be taken in to account, and the best opportunities identified to provide benefits to all parties. NWRM should be considered at a strategic level, not only when site-specific opportunities are happened upon. Opportunity mapping, whether at a catchment scale or national scale, may be an important tool for encouraging and enabling widespread implementation of NWRM.
The vast majority of presentations during the workshops highlighted the importance of engagement. The reasons for this are manifold, but central is the understanding that implementing a measure in one location may provide benefit elsewhere and to other people. Hence without engagement, it would be extremely challenging to act on the multi-disciplinary and spatially distributed nature of NWRM and to achieve those benefits.
The project team engaged widely with stakeholders involved in NWRM or related subjects. Individual contacts were made in all Member States, to identify and discuss case studies of NWRM, and encourage discussion. The value of NWRM in direct relation to the Water Framework Directive must continue to be promoted.
Where to find the forum
All stakeholders are encouraged to continue to discuss the NWRM case here.