This collaborative partnership between coastal scientist Helene Burningham (University College London) and visual artist Simon Read (Middlesex University London) is bringing a new approach to community-focused environmental decision-making. Working alongside the Deben Estuary Partnership (DEP) in their progression of a new estuary plan for the Deben, Helene and Simon, who have both been working on or researching the Deben for many years, will be developing a network of people and action that explores different approaches to enable and encourage community participation in the governance of the estuary landscape.

The Deben Estuary Partnership have undertaken to review the 2015 estuary plan as much of what was set out to be achieved in the original plan has been accomplished. But also, a great deal has changed over the intervening years. There is a heightened level of interest in and understanding of estuary systems; more people are also aware of environmental change, and that climate change is bringing a range of challenges to coastal communities now and increasingly so in the future. Communities have access to more information and data, and the capability to acquire their own data, plan their own monitoring and undertake their own management, restoration and adaptation schemes. A new estuary plan will take into account new ideas and emerging agendas, and this project will work together with the DEP in this process.

This project takes an interdisciplinary partnership approach to enhance the level of stakeholder engagement in the development and implementation of landscape management policy. Over the next two years, the project, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under the Landscape Decisions Programme, will deliver a series of interactive workshops reflecting best scientific knowledge in the context of a broader understanding of cultural implications when applied as policy. The workshops will be active and participatory where physical involvement will be a vital ingredient in the process of arriving at consensus.