The THINKlab is working with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on the Warton Mires Partnership project to help provide a nature-based solution, build resilience for a local community and reverse the fortunes of declining wildlife.
Located in the village of Warton near Carnforth, Lancashire, within the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, the project plans to construct flood alleviation infrastructure on the River Keer floodplain. This will reduce the flood risk to people’s homes, which is increasing due to climate change. In addition, it will create vital new wetland habitats.
Wetlands are the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems and are a natural, or ‘nature based’ solution to climate change. The project will involve collaboration with residents to develop green infrastructure including an upgraded footpath. It will build innovative partnerships designed to benefit the physical and mental wellbeing of the surrounding communities.
The THINKlab team has created a Community Engagement Platform that will allow the project partnership to work with residents, visitors and stakeholder organisations to communicate the project’s aims and establish a collective vision for the area.
The THINKlab team has used aerial drone imagery captured across the site to construct a 3D model of the local area in the Community Engagement Platform. The platform will present the rationale and the aims of the project to the community through a range of visual narratives and to capture their feedback. The narratives can be constructed by combining various visual channels such as the 3D drone environment of the site, images, videos and voice channels.
In the future, further projections of what the site could look like will be uploaded to the new Community Engagement Platform so that the community can fully understand the proposed development work and provide feedback. The platform will be used to keep people up to date as the project unfolds.
Jane Birch, Warton Mires Project Manager, said: “The project at Warton Mires provides a real example of how organisations can work together with the local community to deliver change focused on addressing the nature and climate emergency.
The collaboration with THINKLab was born out of a desire to build a shared understanding of why the project was needed in this location and what this innovative approach of combining flood alleviation with habitat creation could deliver for people and wildlife. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and that’s what we hope to create with the virtual model to inform and engage people with the project.”
Professor Terrence Fernando, Director of THINKlab said: “We believe that community engagement is going to be an important aspect in any future development project. They need to be an equal partner in building resilience against climate change. This project has allowed us to work closely with RSPB and the Arnside and Silverdale AONB to develop a platform to bring in the community as an active partner in development projects. We look forward to work closely with the project representatives to further enhance this platform for large scale projects”.
The RSPB is working with multiple stakeholders with different skills, expertise, and resources, alongside the local community, to create sustainable solutions. The Partnership Group consists of Arnside and Silverdale AONB, Environment Agency, Natural England, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, AONB Landscape Trust, Lune Rivers Trust, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Warton Parish Council, United Utilities and the Gardner Road Residents Association.
The UK has lost 90% of its wetland habitats in the last 100 years. More than 10% of freshwater and wetland species are threatened with extinction, and two-thirds of existing species are in decline. The RSPB is working to protect and restore wetland habitats and to sustain and enhance biodiversity to mitigate the effects of climate change. Wetlands store and slow the flow of water during floods and can help to reduce flood peaks and lower the risk of flooding to downstream properties.
The construction of the Virtual Model has been conducted in partnership with the RSPB and the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with additional funding provided by Hedley Denton Charitable Trust and the William Dean Countryside and Educational Trust.
The Warton Mires project website is under construction. For more information in the meantime, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org