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This week we went live with our new online pages for flood warning. In this blog Martin Linforth, Senior Adviser for Flood Warning and Informing at Natural Resources Wales, explains some of the background to this work. After joining Environment Agency Wales almost 20 years ago, I spent several years helping people at risk of flooding understand who issued flood warnings and where they could get further support and information. Since Natural Resources Wales was formed, and became responsible for the flood warning service in Wales in 2013, my job has been to lead the work to re-brand our flood warning service. As we send people flood warning information via text, phone, email and online – there was a lot to do to make it clear that we are the people to come to for flood warning information in Wales. Most people will hear about flood risk through the media, so it’s really important that people know who is issuing flood warnings - and more importantly - know how to get more information. As this work involved a good deal of work on computer systems and websites – some that we didn’t directly own – it couldn’t happen overnight. But, with the support of our local Flood Incident Management teams and some former colleagues at the Environment Agency (EA), we were able to complete the re-branding work by the summer of 2014. Except for one really important component.... We’d done the work to update the messages that went directly to those registered for the flood warning service and developed a map that showed flood warnings in place on our website. But our customers still had to visit the Environment Agency’s webpages to get all the information they needed, such as detailed information about warning areas, and to view the three day flooding outlook. This might not seem a bad thing, except for the confusion it caused, particularly when warnings were issued. Hence my frustration last year when reading a national newspaper over someone’s shoulder on the train reporting that the Environment Agency had issued more flood warnings in Wales. Despite our best efforts, many of our customers, through the media were not getting clear information about who to contact for flood information. In the background, our ICT teams were already working on the systems needed to develop our website for flood information. And so at last, I have now been able to work with a range of colleagues to complete the missing piece of the puzzle. The result - our new web-pages that bring together all the information our customers, partners and the media need to fully understand the risk of flooding in Wales. The new web pages are a blend of things our customers told us they liked about the old site, combined with some new approaches to make it easier to find the information they need. In just a few clicks, you can understand the risk of flooding over the next 3 days (soon to be 5!) see what warnings are in force right across Wales view greater details for warnings in place get the latest predictions of flooding whenever Flood Alerts and Warnings are in force for our communities You can also check current river levels from our gauges across Wales on our website. Over the coming months, the EA’s flood warning information for England will be moving to a new home on Gov.UK, and it will not show flood warnings in Wales and Scotland. Now that we have more information about flood warnings in Wales available on our site, I hope it will be clearer for everyone, including the media to now find information about flood warnings in Wales. In the meantime there’s still plenty more to do. We'll soon be busy again working on other ways of helping our customers such as developing our smartphone app, increased availability of Welsh language services and easier ways to access our data. When you read this, it will hopefully be on a warm and sunny day. If so, it would be great if you take a few moments to look around the new pages, bookmark a few relevant pages and give us feedback on how the site could be made even better. If however, it is more like the weather we are used to in Wales, I hope you will find the web pages to be helpful and easy to use so that you are informed and able to protect your property from flooding.
Your local woodland, nature reserve, beach and park are probably starting to show their spring colours and are great places to go exploring. Investigating the wildlife in your area or further afield, is a great way to engage young and old in the natural world, so get everyone involved in counting and identifying how many different species of plants, birds, bugs and other animals they can see on their adventure. Older children might like to design a tally chart to take with them to capture their “finds” or you could take photos along the way to see who can find the most. If you have a smart phone there are lots of apps you can download to make on the spot ID easier. Bluebell hunt Wild flowers such as our beautiful native bluebells are starting to show. You might notice that they are a slightly more intense colour than the Spanish variation that you might see in gardens. They have bendy stems with fewer delicate bell like flowers. These natives are protected so make sure the little ones don’t pick them! Did you know that Romans used to use the crushed seed heads that form after the flowers are finished as an antiseptic type of soap? Leaf or flower bashing? A great way to get your family into learning some identification skills is to get them involved in a bit of natural art! When out on your adventure look for fallen leaves or flowers on the floor. Does anyone know what plants/trees they come from? Take a photo so you can look them up at home. Try not to pick any leaves or flowers for this activity unless they are from your garden. You can have your art attack while out and about if you prep beforehand or you can bring your collect home and try this activity there. You need a piece of white cloth from an old sheet or pillow case cut into a small square for each person Place your flowers/leaves on one side of the flattened out cloth and then fold it in half to cover them. Using a small hammer, flat rock or a heavy stick, have the children pound the item into the cloth. Ideally, you will need a flat surface to do this on such as a path or tree stump. Open up the cloth and you should find that the leaves/flowers have stained the material. Try using different shades and colours to create a unique impressionist style painting. You can save the picture or when appropriate wash the cloth to use again and again. Now that all the chocolate eggs have been gobbled up, why not think about eggs from another angle? Nest Building A fun activity to try is nest building. If you watch the birds closely at this time of year you can often spot them flying back and forth carrying small twigs etc. to keep their nests in good condition for their families. Talk about the birds you can see and think about how they survive in that environment. Where do they sleep, lay eggs and what might they eat? Then use lose, natural materials that you find on the floor to make nests. If the children want to get messy let them use mud to stick the nests together. Can you find anything to make them soft for the eggs? You could even build a giant nest if you are in an area with a lot of deadwood available. Seashore Safari You can look for eggs of another kind if you go on a Seashore Safari. This time of year sees ocean creatures spawning so fish eggs such as mermaids purses (shark egg cases) wash up on the strand line. By finding mermaid's purses and sending off any information to the Shark Trust, you can help shark conservation. A tip to help you on your egg case hunt is to really slow down so you can get you “eye in” and you might be surprised at what you can find….. For family friendly, conservation linked, Citizen Science project or surveys such as bug counts, that you could do on your day of adventure try these websites: http://www.opalexplorenature.org/ http://scistarter.com/finder
The effectiveness of managing tree pests and diseases depends on rapid detection, accurate assessment of what risks are out there and taking prompt, suitable action.It is crucial that people are vigilant, know what symptoms to look for and know where to go to for advice.Our work focuses on: Knowing what to look for Having a surveillance system in place and carrying out regular monitoring Knowing who to go to for advice A formal process for assessing risk Having plans in place for dealing with pest or disease outbreaks Legislative role in issuing Statutory Plant Health Notices As tree pests and diseases have no respect for country borders, it’s important that we work closely with local staff as well as UK experts such as Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Forestry Commission England and Scotland and Forest Research (FR). This will ensure that prompt action can be put in place when necessary. Monitoring The best way of dealing with a pest or disease is to prevent it establishing in the first place. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to have a system for monitoring tree health and being able to identify and deal with problems before they spread and become major issues. It is crucial that people are vigilant in their daily work or leisure, know what symptoms to look for and know where to go to for advice. At the moment we are tracking the spread of a disease affecting Larch trees by conducting helicopter surveys of public and private forests across Wales. Aerial surveys are the best way to spot potential new areas of infection as the larch trees bud or flush during the spring. It is the first part of the process to identify new areas of infection. These will be followed by further surveying and sampling work on the ground to confirm the presence of the disease.We run awareness raising and training events throughout the year, internally and for outside bodies, to increase the probability of professionals and volunteers being able to recognise the signs of ill-health in trees and then knowing who to go to for more advice. We are available to advise on all aspects of tree diseases and disorders, including identifying the nature of the problem, its consequences and the need for any action. What can you do to help? Learn about pest and diseases. Keep to the woodland paths, keep dogs on leads, clean your footwear and clothing of all soil, needles and plant debris at the end of your visit. We are available for advice on all aspects of tree diseases and disorders, including identifying the nature of the problem, its consequences and the need for any action. For more information, advice or enquiries on what measures you can take to manage the spread of diseases, visit our Tree Health and Biosecurity pages or email email@example.com for enquiries about trees, forests and woodlands in Wales
Allowing fish and other migratory animals to travel the rivers of Wales can help maintain healthy fish populations: a key factor in the sustainable management of Natural Resources. Work like this is essential in maintaining healthy fish populations in Welsh rivers.DISCOVER MORE OF OUR VIDEO BLOGS
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