State of the Solent: Indicators for the 'health' of the Solent
State of the Solent: Edition 3, 2011
- Physical Environment and climate change
- Nature Conservation
- Transport / Ports and Shipping
- Environmental Quality
- Marine Industries
- Natural Resources
- Recreation and Tourism
- Safety and Emergency Planning
- Human Settlement, Land Use and Management
- Coastal Risk Management (available on request, large file size)
- Historic Heritage and Maritime Archaeology
We have ever higher expectations when it comes to information. We expect it to be available 24/7, free, high quality, relevant – and, above all, up to date (preferably real time!). Against this background it is refreshing to come across an information source that we can welcome as being available, high quality, highly relevant, free . . . and mature! The indicators that have been chosen to represent the State of the Solent in this most recent update do indeed reflect the recent past, but even on this timescale their true value lies in their power to provide a comparison. It is the long-term time series and the trend that increasingly yield the management strength of this data set. We shouldn’t take this for granted - very few other parts of the UK coast can offer such a significant set of historic data against which to judge the present.
Our good fortune in the Solent and surrounding waters is entirely attributable to the foresight of those within the Solent Forum who originally launched this service and those who had the commitment to retain it as one of the Forum’s core functions. The coastal partnerships, of which the Solent Forum is one, have many roles amongst which the provision of management- and policy-relevant information is a high priority. By looking at this sequence of indicators captured by the State of the Solent surveys, you can identify the trends and draw your own conclusions – and therein lies another of the distinctive characteristics of the Forum: it does not judge! Its task is to provide a context within which information can be accessed and its significance can be debated. Whether you like what the indicators tell you about the State of the Solent will depend on your viewpoint, your interests and your values – but you can hardly fail to be interested, impressed and grateful to those who have assembled this information to you. We hope very much that it serves and supports you effectively.
Chair, the Solent Forum, July 2011
To date the following work has been carried out on the State of the Solent (SOS) reports and subsequent development of a set of coastal sustainability indicators for the Solent.
- In 2001, the first edition of the State of the Solent report was published. The aim of the report was “to provide a snapshot of the Solent at the start of the new millennium, by reviewing and quantifying the multiple uses of the Solent’s coastal zone” (Solent Forum, 2001). The report also aimed to stimulate debate on the development of coastal indicators that could be used to determine long-term trends in the Solent’s environmental, social and economic systems.
- In 2004, a set of coastal sustainability indicators for the Solent was developed and agreed by Solent Forum members. These indicators were nested with the work been done by the ICZM working group on indicators and data and those developed as part of the Sail project. These were published in the second edition of the State of the Solent report in 2005. This report is now out of print.
- In 2007/08, a student placement was tasked with updating the indicator data. An indicator leaflet was produced to publicise the Solent coastal indicator data set to members. This directed members to the Solent Forum website for further information.
- The third edition of the State of the Solent was published in 2011. This is an online resource.
Indicator Collection Methodology for State of the Solent: Edition 3
- The data collection methodology has followed on from that used to gather the data for the previous editions of the SOS reports.
- Data is collected from a number of sources and uses established datasets that are collected on a regular basis e.g. WeBS bird count data, fisheries data collected by CEFAS etc. This reduces the resources needed to maintain the indicator datasets and as most are available on line ensures the data is easy to access.
- For this edition only the data for the actual indicators is being gathered and not the additional information which was included in SOS 1 and 2. This will reduced the number of datasets which are being collected and ensure that the information is easier to keep updated.
- Once the data has been sourced it is then spilt out for the Solent region. This often involved drilling down into the data or adding a number of datasets together.
- Where data is collected on the regional/national/EU scale reference will be made to the trends which are shown at these levels and comparison with that found for the Solent will be made.
- To ensure future data collection can be done with ease. A data collection methodology has been produced. Part of this involved all data source information held in a excel spreadsheet to allow anyone to be able to source the data in the future to ensure the information is kept current.
- The indicators themselves have also been reviewed to ensure they were still current and relevant and helped to measure progress with the associated long term aims from the Forum' Strategic Guidance for the Solent.
Presentation of the indicators
Each indicator sheet includes information on:
- Reasons for using the indicator;
- Information on where the data comes from;
- What the indicators shows (the Forum will not give an opinion on if the trend is good or bad it will just be described);
- What the possible implications are for coastal management relating back to the long term aim in the Strategic Guidance. This information will help users to understand the data and its limitations. Indicators are a simplification of situations and act to highlight issues (good and bad). If an issue is highlighted further work would be needed to explore it in more detail.