CaBA Catchment Data and Evidence Forum

A forum, organised by the Catchment Data User Group (CDUG), took place on the 27th September 2018, to grow the capacity of the Catchment Partnerships and to ensure that the catchment management work is underpinned by robust data and evidence.

A wide range of representatives from local CaBA partnerships and national support organisations attended the event, including eNGOs, Defra, EA, local government, academia, consultancies and water companies.

The main aims of the event were to:

  1. Identify the barriers and opportunities for the wider CaBA data & evidence community to support the delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan. 
  2. Provide a totally inclusive national forum for the catchment data & evidence community to exchange knowledge and expertise, and increase the network of technical experts available to CaBA partnerships.
  3. Incorporate the ideas and expertise of the wider community in the co-design of key evidence sharing infrastructure planned by government agencies to support the 25 Year Environment Plan.


The day consisted of a series of 20 talks by experts from across the catchment management community, from government, academia, consultancies and eNGOs. The talks and networking sessions provided an excellent opportunity for cross-sectoral exchange of ideas and expertise.

The wider group fed back ideas and comments for three key areas of work within the Environment Agency; the strategic monitoring review; the catchment data explorer and public consultations (for river basin and flood risk plans etc). This session reflected the original role of CDUG as an end user community and highlighted the growing move by the Environment Agency to a more partnership-based approach to its strategic thinking, as well as local delivery of environmental improvement.

During the day the 55 attendees were also given the opportunity to vote on the following questions:

Which are the top three barriers to the CaBA data and evidence community supporting the 25-year Environment Plan:



Figure 2

Figure 2 summarises the votes of the 55 attendees. It highlights the success of the OpenData revolution and identifies the need for a continued focus on making data and evidence accessible and building the technical capacity of catchment partnerships to use this evidence. The need for greater consistency of approach highlights the need for national leadership and a planned approach to the development and use of data and modelling.


Which are the top three opportunities for the Data and Evidence community to support the 25-year environment plan?



Figure 3

Figure 3 highlights the potential to use the interpretation and translation skills developed within the community and the collection of data by civil society to engage a much wider audience in the improvement of the environment. The availability of an inclusive nationally consistent convening space, CaBA, was also identified as a key opportunity for the 25-year environment plan to build on and use.


A short feedback session also highlighted the appetite from the community to host similar forums in the future, and CDUG will continue to hold regular web meetings throughout the year. Opportunities for collaboration which were identified on the day will lead to a more joined-up and accessible data sharing landscape, including the ability for local communities to gather and share evidence about the state of their local environment, which will, in turn, lead to better local decision-making.

The Catchment Data User Group will continue to meet quarterly to coordinate work to tackle barriers and explore opportunities.

Follow-up from the day is available via the CaBA discussion forum, including presentations, summary report, feedback and outcomes from the discussion sessions.

The Catchment Data User Group will continue to meet and develop collaborative data sharing projects – please contact Michelle Walker if you would like to keep in touch with the group’s activities or find out how you can be involved: