Our 2016 conference returned to the Lake District where the whole idea of a Lakes Network came about back in 2009.
This year the focus was on sustainable lake watershed management.
Held in Penrith and the northern part of the Lake District, our UK delegates and international speakers were privy to opening remarks from Richard Leafe (Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park) who outlined the vision for the Park and the challenges and opportunities of operating post Storm Desmond.
Our speakers again drew strongly on initiatives that had been implemented not only across the UK and Ireland but wider within Europe where the issues were often the same but different systems and administrations led to different ideas about how we can progress catchment protection. What became clear was that Government bodies, academia, NGOs, private companies and charitable trusts, (plus others) all have the opportunity to play to their strengths and contribute to a lake protection and restoration. We seem to be finally moving on from the hierarchical approach which prevailed some years ago.
Equally important to the eclectic mix of excellent presentation we received, was the networking opportunities that our annual conference always promotes. We tried quite hard to ensure that discussion could take place around the presentations and poster sessions on day one, the conference diner and during the relaxed (and sunny) field excursion on day 2, where we met practitioners who reinforced many of the messages conveyed on day 1. Whilst focussing on many different areas of lake interest all those we met had a very clear and common understanding of their role and its importance.
Our field visit took the group to Thirlmere Reservoir and then around the Bassenthwaite Lake area where the rare white fish the vendace was thought to have become extinct but now believed to be still present and perhaps even recovering. Certainly the whole watershed actions there have significantly improved the environmental conditions for their continued survival.
Each conference always offers something new, and for me the presentation from the Forestry Commission’s Osprey Project Officer spelt out just how important quality communications were. Her message was towards engaging the general public by means of stories, not presenting them with hard science. That comes a little later.
UKILN would like to thank United Utilities for sponsoring the 2016 conference, for the poster papers outlining their very proactive work on lake restoration and the pioneering work explained on whole watershed management by their Thirlmere Estate Manager.
We have already got the framework in place and next year’s conference in Scotland. This will be at Linlithgow where the focus will be on Urban Lakes.
We look forward to even more of our members and guests joining us in West Lothian on the 25th April 2017.
Hon Sec UKILN