A series of deliberative workshops involving farmers and communities around the Cambrian Mountains addressed ecosystems goods and services proposals.
Problems and Purpose
The aim of the dialogue project was to undertake a wide-ranging discussion that would seek to understand the obstacles in the way of the development of Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) schemes or similar market instruments in the Cambrian Mountains, and through understanding the nature of those constraints, suggest ways to overcome them and change to a more balanced and sustainable rural economy. The key objectives were to deliver a public dialogue project that:
- Informed and secured understanding and buy-in to the suggested ecosystems approach of the Natural Environment Framework/ Living Wales, through the development of a number of Ecosystems Goods and Service (EGS) proposals for the Cambrian Mountains
- Gained an understanding of the public perception to the EGS proposals, both within and without the study area, and how the challenges and opportunities of the ecosystems approach are linked to external social and economic factors
- Developed a visual representation of the interconnectivity of stakeholder perception in regard to EGS opportunities that can inform/influence the development of policy designed to deliver the ecosystems approach
- Created discussion around the potential incentives/market mechanisms required to deliver an EGS approach to land management in the Cambrian Mountains.  
An engagement process was designed to explore these objectives. Four key EGS were nominated by the project steering group, all connected with land management, namely:
- Food from farming – lamb and beef from the uplands
- High quality drinking water – from the reservoirs and aquifers
- Flood control – provided by wetland habitats and soils
- Climate regulation – by storing carbon in soils and vegetation
Background History and Context
Landscapes are dynamic systems that have always changed in response to physical processes and human intervention. The competing pressures on the landscape point to the need to carefully plan and manage landscape change to deliver a range of environmental and social outcomes.
The ecosystems approach was originally introduced by the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the Earth Summit in 1992. The ecosystems approach is seen as a way in which the overall health or integrity of ecosystems can be assessed and the multiple benefits derived from them (goods and services) better described and managed. EGS are the resources and processes that ecosystems provide for human wellbeing. 
The ecosystem approach is based on twelve principles, which have been summarised by Scottish Natural Heritage as follows:
- Take account of how ecosystems work (e.g. consider the broad scale as well as the local, the long term as well as the immediate)
- Take account of the services that ecosystems provide to people, including those that underpin social and economic well-being
- Involve the participation of those who benefit from the ecosystem services
The principles can be applied to specific environmental policy issues such as fisheries or forestry; for example, the Water Framework Directive follows many of the principles of an ecosystem approach due to its focus on river catchments as environmental systems, together with the strong public participation dimension to river basin management planning.
In the UK, Defra has adopted ‘an ecosystems approach’ as a guide to policy development. It has a particular focus on ensuring that the value of ecosystem services is fully reflected in policy and decision-making in Defra and across Government. Within the Welsh Government, ecosystem services have been a feature of the 2012 Natural Environment Framework Green Paper. 
This dialogue project was designed to build on the earlier Ecosystems and Landscapes dialogue project, also co-funded by Sciencewise. That first dialogue project sought to engage a range of community and land management stakeholders around ecosystem futures in the East of England, Scotland, and the Cambrian Mountains in Wales. One of the key findings from this dialogue was the need to accommodate ‘societal’ values in discussions about trading off competing land uses.
The Cambrian Mountains Initiative (CMI) was set up in 2007 as a sustainable development pilot in the Cambrian Mountains. It is a partnership of local authorities, the Welsh Government, other public bodies, charities and private and voluntary organisations. In 2010, the CMI created a discussion tool to map locations where climate change mitigation measures, such as tree planting, could be effectively undertaken after taking into account existing (and possibly competing) land uses. CMI also looked at the potential additional value that could be gained from enhanced land use and management in the Cambrian Mountains, concluding that the potential value of this work was around £8.3 million per year. Investigations of potential PES schemes concluded that further work was needed to understand the nature of the constraints on the development of a PES approach – the physical constraints, regulatory constraints and, specifically for a future dialogue project, the conceptual constraints affecting take up of an EGS approach. This required consideration of farmer/landowner perceptions, corporate caution and the perceptions of the general public to pay for ‘intangible’ services they tend to take for granted .
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Total cost of the project: £45,600 
The project was commissioned by Countryside Council for Wales (since 2013 known as Natural Resources Wales), on behalf of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative. Sciencewise provided co-funding (£21,000) and support. Following an open call, Catrin Ellis Associates and Land Use Consultants were contracted to deliver the project, while Icarus were the project evaluators.
- LUC: A specialised environmental consultancy and partner in delivery of the public dialogue.
- Catrin Ellis Associates: An independent business in facilitation, training, partnership working and consensus building in Wales, the UK and internationally and partner in delivery of the public dialogue.
- Icarus: Work includes evaluation, facilitation, stakeholder engagement and research, across a range of fields including the environment and was the project evaluator .
Natural Resources Wales / Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru
As of 1 April 2013, the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and Forestry Commission Wales became Natural Resources Wales / Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru.
Cambrian Mountains Initiative
A wide-ranging project that aims to help promote rural enterprise, protect the environment and add value to products and services in Mid Wales.
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills funded programme, Sciencewise brings scientists, government and the public together to explore the impact of science and technology in our lives. Its core aim is to develop the capacity of Government to carry out good dialogue, to gather and disseminate good practice, have successful two-way communications with the public and other stakeholders, and to embed the principles of good dialogue into internal Government processes.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participants involved: 45 people at 7 different events (30 from communities and 15 farmers).
Number of stakeholders involved: 19 at expert stakeholder workshops 
A small incentive to participation comprising £20, plus a £15 contribution towards travel expenses, was given to participants not attending as part of any professional duty (all non-expert participants, i.e. consumers, local residents of the Cambrian Mountains and farmers).
The experience of the study team of recruiting participants for focus group studies is that, providing the sample to be tested is relatively small, it is best undertaken by team-members; if there is a chance that the participant is Welsh speaking, this should be undertaken by a bilingual team-member. The interviewer / recruiter must be able to talk sufficiently knowledgeably about the purpose of the study being undertaken, about the use that will be made of the resulting outputs, in sufficiently independent terms about the theme being discussed, and about the commitment and contribution required of the participant. This methodology results in both greater levels of participant confidence in the study and delivers more control over the type / profile and appropriate mix of participants required for the focus group work and increases certainty levels that there will be good turn-out at the focus group event.
A combined information-gathering and recruiting process was adopted. This started by inviting passers-by in the town centre or shopping centre where the recruitment took place to complete a paper questionnaire survey – formulated to gain knowledge of the respondent, to introduce the theme, and to gain initial insight into the respondents’ views on the theme. Respondents were then asked if they might be willing to participate in an evening focus-group event. If they responded yes, they were asked to provide contact details, including their address and telephone number. This was followed-up with an official invitation to participate, from CMI staff with a follow-up call from the study team to confirm attendance.
Direct recruiting of members of the public (in their role as consumers of EGS) for the ‘within- Cambrian Mountain Area-sample’, was through local schools initially. This worked well in Rhayader and in Llanymddyfri, but was less successful in the Talybont area where a local resident asked some of her contacts to participate, and in this sense, this group was perhaps the least diverse group to take part. Interestingly, the attitudes of participants at the Talybont workshop align more closely with those of the urban, distant consumers. Several participants do not hale originally from the Cambrian Mountain area, several work in Aberystwyth, and/or their livelihoods have little/no connection to the land. 
Methods and Tools Used
179 people were surveyed in local Cambrian Mountain communities and Monmouth and Shrewsbury. The surveys were designed to gather data on general attitudes towards the value people ascribe to nature’s contribution to our lives, to raise awareness of the study and the CMI and, primarily, to recruit a wide cross section of participants to subsequent workshops. Focusing some of the survey questions on the locally relevant theme of flooding was intended to capture people’s interest. 
Workshops with communities and farmers
The public and farmer workshops took the following form:
- Two, evening, deliberative workshops of 2.25 hours were held with the distant/downstream communities – Monmouth (attended by six people) and Shrewsbury (five people)
- Three, evening, deliberative workshops of 2.25 hours were held with the local Cambrian Mountain communities – Rhayader (six people), Llanymddyfri (six people) and Talybont (seven people)
- Two, small-group workshops with farmers and graziers of the Cambrian Mountains – Llanymddyfri (seven National Trust tenants and graziers) and Talybont (eight CMI Future Farmers Group).
- At each workshop, participants looked at four topic areas relevant to ecosystem services: food from farming, drinking water, food control and climate regulation. These were considered in relation to three alternative scenarios: business as usual, positive – planned and negative – unexpected.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The same protocol was followed for all seven small group workshops, to enable comparison of results. Each was two and a quarter hours long, and began by talking a little about people’s lifestyles, and their connection [if any] to the Cambrian Mountains. Then they moved on to discussing each EGS in turn, and specifically an exploration of three potential future scenarios, depicting a business as usual scenario, a scenario resulting from negative, un-planned for events, and a scenario planned in order to result in multiple positive outcomes. Information was presented to participants via diagrams, images, schematic cartoons, and verbally. Time was allowed for discursive, collective exploration of and reflection on the themes suggested by the stimulus material.
The facilitator managed the discussion, ensuring people considered issues from all perspectives represented among the group and allowing people to introduce ideas they thought relevant. Related issues raised by participants ranged from wind farms, micro-hydro power generation, tourism and leisure opportunities associated with EGS, to the power of supermarkets, the role of utility and insurance companies, the global nature of trade and environmental interdependency, and the balance of power between Welsh Government, Westminster, Brussels, and global geo-politics.
Following deliberation, time was allocated to allow participants to respond individually to questions on a proforma, assessing in a semi-quantitative and qualitative way, why they believed certain futures might be more likely to be realised, the effect on them of each future scenario, their own influence on EGS futures’ and how they might gain greater influence. They were also invited to make any additional comments. Ideas were offered about how to encourage a positive future for the EGS under consideration; several participants suggested potential incentives / market mechanisms and new approaches to land management in the Cambrian Mountains.
Workshop with expert stakeholders and policy makers
On 14th March 2013, 19 expert stakeholders and policy-makers came together for a full-day workshop. In the morning, they were led through a process nearly identical to that described above. Over the lunch break, as participants networked, the facilitation team typed up and rapidly transferred their results to charts illustrating the quantitative element of the data gathered from all four stakeholder groups.
The visual representation of the interconnectivity and divergence of different stakeholder groups’ perceptions in regard to EGS, allowed the expert stakeholders to review the comparative data, and to explore opportunities and options for co-delivery of positive futures’. 
Dissemination of results
The project report was launched in July 2013 at the Royal Welsh Show by the Minister for Natural Resources in Wales. Also, a stakeholder day for the CMI on 7 November 2013 was attended by the Minister who made reference to the project. 
The case study and final report provide the following details on the findings and key messages from the public dialogues.
The project generated simple quantitative measures and more in-depth qualitative assessments to describe the perceptions of different groups, including the public, of the four ecosystem goods and services (EGS) included in the study – food from farming, drinking water, food control and climate regulation – and the potential for Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) systems.
There was agreement, in principle, by all sectors participating in this project that PES should be developed. More technical work was needed to inform and add context to further dialogue aimed at developing favoured PES mechanisms. There was significant interest and buy-in from the public and farming communities for identifying ways of covering the costs of protecting natural systems so that they can continue to provide the conditions for life to flourish. Any future dialogue should also include other key stakeholders who did not take part in this study such as the water, utilities and insurance industries, and planners. 
All participants were keen to see the results of the project being widely disseminated. There was also a strong desire across all sectors to use and build on the findings of this dialogue process to deliberate, develop and agree on practical next steps to provide better outcomes for EGS and to devise equitable PES systems. All stakeholder groups support further dialogue over the issues raised by this project. People were also keen to explore what an ecosystems approach would look like in practice, initially through pilot projects. These could build on the relationships developed through this project.
One participant in the Shrewsbury workshop said that involving members of the public in this kind of dialogue is “as important a use of citizens’ time as jury service”.
The most unexpected insight gained from the project was the degree to which all stakeholders felt they had little influence over the development of EGS approaches and PES. Potential keys to unlocking PES related to trust and efficiency. Members of the public generally required proof that any monies they might contribute towards PES systems are used effectively and transparently for environmental resilience and enhancement.
Water quality, closely followed by the related issue of food control, was the EGS seen to have the greatest potential to stimulate productive and innovative debate between consumers, land managers and policy makers/regulators, and most likely to lead to proposals for a new PES. This could be based on one or more of the river catchments originating in the Cambrian Mountains. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The Welsh Government acknowledges that the project informed thinking on the Environment (Wales) Bill, which is expected to be introduced in 2015. The White Paper on the Bill identifies innovative approaches that could be used as opportunities to deliver integrated natural resource management. These include trials of new approaches to water catchment trading schemes, which was identified in the dialogue as a potential way forward.
In addition, Natural Resources Wales has continued to work with one group of farmers that came together through the project to scope what they can do to gain ecosystem benefits. This group has gone on to take the work forward themselves, including bidding for funds – to manage the water catchment differently – from a new Welsh Government funding scheme on ecosystem services.
Natural Resources Wales has also developed a different way of doing things as a result of the project, working much more closely with stakeholders and people on the ground, and going beyond working in ‘silos’. The project provided a direction for what was needed to deliver the policy in terms of what was needed on the ground. 
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The case study identified the following lessons:
What worked well
Small groups and an informal atmosphere, coupled with good props and clear information, were important elements in enabling the public/lay participants to discuss complex, technical issues and provide valuable insights into their perspectives. The information included simple scenarios and photo montages that helped people visualise the scenarios. Of the focus group participants, 90% understood more about the issues related to Wales’ Natural Wealth as a result of taking part in the dialogue process.
The expert stakeholder workshop provided the experts with a valuable and focused opportunity to discuss issues in depth, hear the perspectives of a range of different disciplines and have broad-based conversations on ecosystems goods and services topics, in a way that is rarely otherwise possible.
The evaluation report was produced very quickly and to a high standard, with clear lessons from the process. The report also provided clear ways forward from dialogue to action, including the willingness of public and stakeholder participants to be involved in pilot initiatives as well as summarising suggestions made during the process of specific policy initiatives that results could be fed into.
The launch of the dialogue report at the Royal Welsh Show by the Minister for Natural Resources in Wales worked very well. The Show is a key event in the rural Welsh calendar.
What worked less well
The project was produced in a very short space of time (not least because the Countryside Commission for Wales was due to become part of a new body on 1 April 2013). If there had been more time, more could have been achieved.
In particular, more time was needed to fully engage expert stakeholders including from Government, and to involve other key stakeholders who did not take part (e.g. Welsh Water and utility companies). A longer time scale would also have resulted in more focused reflection and learning from the evidence captured, and more capacity building. The short timescale also meant that there was no scope for focus group participants to influence how their evidence was presented to the expert workshop participants. In addition, lack of internal resources meant that staff time was limited.
The dialogue generated more information than was used, and it was felt there was a need to consider how to filter, analyse, collate, and reflect on all the evidence that was generated by the dialogue process.
In addition, the project would have benefited from clear messages for participants about what happened next and how the findings of the dialogue process would be used and by whom. 
 Sciencewise (2014) “Case Study: Cambrian Mountains- Landscape and ecosystems”
 Catrin Ellis Associates and LUC (2013) “Cambrian Mountains Initiative: Landscape and Ecosystems Futures and Perceptions in the Cambrian Mountains”, July 2013
 Bovey, H and Smith, S (2013) “Cambrain mountains Ecosystem Services Public Dialogue Process: Project Evaluation”, Icarus, March 2013
 Sciecnewise (2017) “Cambrian Mountains Natural Wealth - Landscape and Ecosystems Futures and Perceptions across a transitional landscape in the Cambrian Mountains” (ONLINE) Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20170110132555...