Mission possible!

Here at Natural Course, we have an extensive monitoring and evaluation programme which includes detailed interim reports and the hosting of formal ‘Mission’ visits from NEEMO (the external monitors for LIFE Projects).

At the start of May, we hosted a very successful two-day Mission in Penrith.  We were joined in person by Lynne Barratt and Chris People (NEEMO), and virtually by Fabio Leone (Head of Sector for Circular Economy and Quality of Life in the LIFE Programme).

We decided to take a thematic approach enabling us to showcase work from all of our Beneficiaries and new external partners on natural capital, innovative financing, and the application of ‘learning on the ground’ in the Northwest and beyond.

Day one was office-based in Penrith, where the Natural Course Collaborative Team and colleagues told our natural capital story across a diverse range of urban and agricultural settings.  We looked at our engagement across Greater Manchester on how we use a natural capital approach (opens new tab) and the influence that is having on both the political landscape and in generating investment.

We heard some impressive outcomes from different projects who have used this natural capital approach, including the Brining the River Irk to Life (opens new tab), the creation of farm plans through the Cheshire Hub (opens new tab) and the impact from the ecological network tool (opens new tab).

We then looked at how this approach has influenced our natural flood management projects resulting impressive, catchment scale delivery.  The impact of Natural Course continued to unfold as the focus moved to the Wyre Natural Flood Management Investment Readiness project, where we were joined by external partners Triodos Bank and Esmee Fairbanks Foundation.

Day two was on site around the Glenderamackin catchment and in Keswick where we could demonstrate the application of project learning.  With the help of Dan Turner (Rivers Trust) and Caitlin Pearson (West Cumbria Rivers Trust), our Monitors were able to see the real change on the ground, as well as hearing how the mechanisms and learnings from our work are being applied across a range of projects – not only in the Northwest, but also in Leeds, the Severn and Wye, and Port of Tyne.

On top of the Mission, the Natural Course Programme Management Office also spent two days in virtual meetings with the Monitors covering general details around progress, risk, change, finance, monitoring and communications.