Building a common understanding of natural resource management and use within a catchment community - the Eye Brook, England.
Water quality and availability are inextricably linked with landuse and climate change. Public understanding of these issues, of differing attitudes towards them, and of how different members of catchment communities can address them is low. This paper describes a four-year (2006-2010) project in the 67-km2 Eye Brook catchment in central England and takes an innovative and inclusive social learning approach that recognises messy problem situations and differing social norms. The aim is to improve natural resource management, especially that of water, to benefit local people, resource users and regulators. The project recognises, values and capitalises on three differing knowledge cultures: scientific, local and historical, through professional inter-disciplinary research, public events, a newsletter, group and individual research, a teaching pack and a book. The project improved farmer's engagement with environmental issues, increased public awareness of agri-environmental processes associated with water quality and availability, and provided a valuable reality check for researchers and experts. Locally, the work has extended to practical evaluated management, while nationally it has influenced the development of new landscape scale community-led projects. The principles are widely applicable to other sites and circumstances.