Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund)

The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme

The authors are solely responsible for the content of this report. Material included herein does not represent the opinion of the European Community, and the European Community is not responsible for any use that might be made of it.
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Analysis of the TIDE Estuarine Conflict Matrices

4b. Regional Working Group (RWG) Composition and Interests Comparison

As part of the completion of the conflict matrix process for each estuary, it was necessary to establish a small Regional Working Group (RWG) per estuary in order to cover the range of management topics and concerns present within each estuary. The main areas of estuary function and management importance/concern were considered to be Transport & Accessibility; Flood Protection & Assimilation; Ecological Function & Diversity; and Recreation & Social Use. Whilst representative parity across these broad function areas was not required within the composition of each of the RWGs, it was requested that representatives of each function topic were present, or that someone able to accurately represent the key concerns of the function topics was included within the group analysis.

RWG members were asked to both represent their organisation’s main management remit(s), but also where possible, take into account other management users and uses when completing the conflict matrices, in order to gain both a spectrum of interests and concerns, and also a balanced indication of the headline issues for each estuary.
In order to address any potential bias in RWG composition or outcomes, each estuary RWG was asked to complete a short questionnaire detailing the membership, main area of management remit, and individual management priorities in terms of the relative importance of the four main function areas identified above.

A summary of the responses to these questionnaires is provided in Figure 5. The Figure shows that at least five representatives formed each RWG, with ‘importance/concern’ scoring across all estuaries and function topic areas.

The RWGs identified Ecological Function & Diversity as the most important topic area provided by all the TIDE estuaries, with a mean score of 1.8 (2.0 being highly important, 1.0 being moderately important, 0 being unimportant). Flood Protection & Assimilation was also highly rated across the TIDE estuaries with a mean of 1.7. Transport & Accessibility scored a mean of 1.5 (mid way between moderate and highly important), and Recreation & Social Use was ranked as moderately important with a mean of 1.0.

On an individual estuary basis, the Weser RWG scored the combined function area importance/concerns of their estuary highest within the TIDE groups, with a mean score of 6.7 across all areas (maximum potential of 8.0), and with the Humber RWG scoring theirs the lowest with a mean score of 5.5. The mean function importance/concern score across all estuaries was 6.0.

The Elbe RWG (5 members) rated the Transport & Accessibility function as being of greatest importance in their estuary, with a score of 1.8, followed by Ecological Function & Diversity with 1.6, and with both Flood Protection & Assimilation and Recreation & Social Use with scores of 1.2.

The Weser RWG (6 members) rated Flood Protection & Assimilation as the most important function with a mean of 2.0, followed by Transport & Accessibility and Ecological Function & Diversity with scores of 1.8. However, Recreation & Social Use was scored at 1.0.

The Scheldt RWG (5 members) rated Ecological Function & Diversity as being the most important function area (1.8), followed by Flood Protection & Assimilation (1.6), Transport & Accessibility (1.4), and Recreation & Social Use (1.2).

The Humber RWG (8 members) scored Ecological Function & Diversity and Flood Protection & Assimilation as being the most important functions each with a score of 1.9, followed by Transport & Accessibility with a score of 1.0, and Recreation & Social Use with a score of 0.8.

In summary therefore, the Elbe identified Transport & Accessibility as the most important function, the Weser Flood Protection & Assimilation, the Scheldt Ecological Function & Diversity, and the Humber Flood Protection & Assimilation and Ecological Function & Diversity of equal greatest importance. Recreation & Social Use were scored lowest by all four RWGs.

Whilst the values generated from this exercise are considered to be overly simplistic in terms of describing and prioritising ecosystem functions for estuaries, they are considered to be of value in identifying the main functional areas of importance and concern in each estuary and reflect the focus of other studies undertaken by groups within the TIDE project. For example, Transportation & Accessibility (e.g. navigation) has been identified as the most important functional attribute on the Elbe, whilst on the Humber, this has been Flood Protection & Assimilation, and Ecological Function and Diversity.

There is an obvious potential reduced weighting attached to the Recreation & Social Use function across all estuaries, given the scores and the restricted representation within the RWG composition.

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