Landmarks for Policy - Rural Economy and Land Use Programme

relu.ac.uk
  • No tags were found...

Landmarks for Policy - Rural Economy and Land Use Programme

Landmarks for Policy


The UK Research Councils’ Rural Economy and Land UseProgramme was launched in 2003 to carry out strategicinterdisciplinary research into the multiple challengesfacing rural areas. Involvement throughout the researchprocess of a wide range of stakeholders, with competingdemands and visions, is also key to the Relu philosophy.The challenges range from restoring trust in food chainsand tackling animal and plant disease in sociallyacceptable ways, to mitigating and adapting to climatechange. Running through most of the projects is the threadof rural land and how we use it. Land use often plays a partin creating problems, but may also be part of the solution.It has, therefore, loomed large within the Relu programme.In this document we draw on the research projects, on arange of stakeholder involvement and comment, and onthe work of two land use policy analysts commissioned byRelu, in order to inform current thinking and policymakingon rural land in the UK.Landmarks for PolicyBaroness Young of Old Scone:“What do we, collectively, asThe Great British Public, want of theland? We aren’t making any more ofit – how do we achievemultifunctional land use in a smallisland? The time may have come fora land use plan.”Hilary Benn, Secretary of Statefor Environment, Food and RuralAffairs:“As a society we need totake a fundamental look at how weuse and value our rural land andwhat sort of countryside we wantfuture generations to inherit.”Nick Herbert, Shadow Secretaryof State for Environment, Foodand Rural Affairs:“If we are to conserve thecountryside, its wildlife and habitatsfor future generations, as well asmeet the demands of a growingpopulation and changingenvironment, we will need to shapea new approach to the managementof our land and natural resources.”Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy1


What do we need from our land?Following World War 2 and “Dig for Victory” the UK made greatstrides in increasing production from every hectare of land. But the1970s and 80s brought surpluses and “food mountains” so we started tocultivate biodiversity instead. Now we need to harvest increasinglydiverse benefits from our land: food, clean water supplies, timber,biofuels, wildlife, flood management, carbon storage, leisure activitiesand more houses and infrastructure for a growing population. Demandsshift and grow in an uncertain economic, as well as meteorological,climate. Technological advances continue but public acceptance oftenlags behind, as in the development of genetically modified crops,resulting in controversies that may be difficult to resolve.Multiple demands upon such a finite resourcecan only be resolved by ensuring that each areaof land fulfils multiple or strategically chosenfunctions. The ecosystem services approach,which recognises the integration of differentfunctions, seems to lend itself to this but it doesalso require more holistic policymaking.Ultimately the management of landdepends on the individuals and institutions thatown it, but land managers face multiplechallenges. It is important for policymakers tounderstand what influences land managers inweighing risks and taking decisions. They are nota homogenous group and although, for most,making a living will be high on the agenda ofpriorities, it is seldom the sole driver. Nearly allthe Relu projects work directly with people whomanage the land, and all emphasise the diversityof this group of professionals. If policymakers failto recognise this and adopt a blanket approach,their interventions may have unintended or evenperverse consequences.Land managers’ decisions are influencedby personal circumstances such as whether thenext generation wants to take over the farm,whether they want to shoot game, what sort offarming is happening next door, as well as bycurrent commodity prices or the levels ofsubsidy on offer. These drivers will change overtime. How do we understand this complex mix ofmotivations? The projects are using diverseapproaches to try and achieve a betterunderstanding, which is essential for effectivepolicymaking.Can we reasonably expect farmers to seethemselves as “integrated land managers”managing “multifunctional landscapes” andproviding “ecosystem services” that include notonly food but also a range of other functionsfrom biodiversity to carbon storage and floodmanagement? And how should we be rewardingthem for these different services?2Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy


Catharine Ward Thompson,Research Professor of LandscapeArchitecture and Director,OPENspace Research Centre,Edinburgh College of Art:“There is a complexinterrelationship between arableand grassland, woodland andmoorland, etc, that affects thehealthy functioning of a range ofsystems, from hydrological andenergy flows to access to the landfor recreation and human wellbeing.A holistic view of these is necessary.”Marcus Sangster, National Adviseron Land Use and Social Research,Forestry Commission:“The UK still has a lot of landthat is marginal for agriculture and isfarmed largely to benefit fromsubsidies. So the question is whatdoes society want to buy with itsfinancial support? Less floodingmust be high on the list.”Willow and miscanthus are biomass crops withpotential for renewable energy production in theUK, and government policies are encouragingfarmers to grow more of these crops to helpreduce CO ² emissions. The Impacts ofIncreasing Land Use Under Energy Cropsproject found that there is real interest in growingbiomass crops but the relative level of profitabilityand clear policy support would be essentialelements in their large-scale adoption in the UK.There is sufficient land available to meetproduction up to the UK Government BiomassStrategy objective of 350,000 hectares forelectricity without significantly impacting on foodproduction. To meet an additional hectarage fortransport biofuels would place increased pressureon land. Despite anxieties about possible effectson biodiversity, the research found many positivebenefits, particularly of short rotation coppicewillow. Sympathetic plantation design andmanagement protocols would help to ensure thatsuch benefits are realised. GIS-suitability mappingand sustainability appraisal were found to beuseful tools for integrating the evidence intodecision-making.Current policy changes will have majorimplications for farming and biodiversity in thehills. The Sustainability of Hill Farming projecthas been investigating the impacts of changessuch as the reduction in support for productionand the introduction of the Single Farm Payment.Their model shows that this encourages areduction in stocking densities, with a shift awayfrom beef cattle, a reduction in application ofchemical fertilisers to inbye land and a reduction inthe numbers of people employed on the farm.There is also a trend towards greater specialisation.Many farmers have come to depend on subsidiesfrom agri-environment schemes, whichencourage them to provide habitats for wildlife oraccess for recreation. At the moment thesepayments play a role in moderating the likelyeffects of the Single Farm Payment but are alsolikely to undergo major changes in the future.The management of rural floodplains is a productof policy interventions that have promotedparticular objectives at different times.“Reclaiming and improving” for agriculture was thedominant purpose for over 50 years until the1990s, but now we expect a great range ofecosystem services from this land. TheIntegrated Management of Floodplainsproject has investigated the trade-offs that haveto be made in order to prioritise different servicesand modelled the gains and losses under differentmanagement regimes. As climate change bringsmore frequent extreme weather events, allowingrural areas to flood may have benefits for towns,but the costs to agriculture must be taken intoaccount. There are measures that can help. Forexample, livestock farmers could reduce theirvulnerability by creating buffers of feed forlivestock. This could include reserves of grazingland, or buying in feed. Arable farmers couldreplace crops which are susceptible to floodingwith crops that are more resilient. Resilience couldbe increased by maintaining or restoring landdrainage in farmed areas as a means of evacuatingflood water and controlling ground water levelsafter flooding.Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Landmarks for Policy 3


Who decides?There is also the wider issue of who should have a say in landmanagement. Apart from a small number of institutions and largeproperty owners, most of the land in the UK is in the hands of small andmedium-sized commercial businesses.However, we all have a stake in the goods andservices that land provides. Food and clean waterare essential to support life, and we subsidisethem through our taxes. Ecosystem servicessuch as carbon storage, aesthetic landscapes,biodiversity, energy production, storage of floodwater are also important to all of us, whether welive in rural or in urban areas.Organisations in charge of decisionmaking often exclude or discourage others fromtaking responsibility. More flexibility and “lettinggo” by such bodies might encourage individualsand communities to cooperate in designing andimplementing their own solutions.One of the tenets of Relu research is theinvolvement of the total range of stakeholders,which has enriched the programme and addedvalue to research outputs and knowledgeexchange. The Relu projects suggest thatinvolving local communities in land usecontroversies, tapping their “non-professional”knowledge and insights and developing modelsand potential solutions collaboratively, will helpspeed up and improve policy decisions anddelivery.There is an increasing sense that we needto integrate scientific knowledge with localexperience when considering potential futuresfor our land. But there also needs to be morepublic debate about the problems and choiceswhen policy is being made. How do we value allof these aspects of ecosystem services? How dowe avoid the “unintended consequences” ofpolicymaking? And what trade-offs might we beprepared to make?Flooding has become an issue of great concernover recent years and understanding its causesand how we can reduce risk is the focus ofincreasing efforts among scientists. Researchersworking on the Understanding EnvironmentalKnowledge Controversies project have takenthe phenomenon of flooding and used it toinvestigate a new way of doing science. They wantto improve the way in which the public areinvolved in decisions about environmentalcontroversies and use local expertise that is notcurrently being exploited. In their first study area,Ryedale in North Yorkshire, which has experiencedserious flooding in recent years, they formed theRyedale Flood Research Group, made up ofresidents and scientists, to carry out the researchcollaboratively. This collaboration produced acustomised computer model of local riversystems, which enabled group members to try outtheir own ideas for managing local flood risk andresulted in a proposal to build bunds for upstreamstorage which has now been adopted by Defra as apilot scheme.In the Lake District catchment of Loweswater, theimpetus to improve water quality has come fromthe local community, who are working withresearchers in the Testing a CommunityApproach to Catchment Managementproject. Loweswater has high levels of phosphoruswhich, periodically, cause blue-green algal blooms.These blooms are potentially toxic, as well asunattractive to visitors, and mean the lake waterswould probably fail to meet required EuropeanWater Framework Directive standards. Modellingwork by the researchers suggests that the problemis caused by a combination of diffuse pollutionfrom fertilisers and failing septic tanks in thecatchment. By forming the Loweswater CareProject and working with scientists to monitor theproblems, land owners and residents are takingaction themselves. Several land owners havealready taken steps to separate clean from dirtywater, cover yards and middens and replace faultyseptic tanks.Deer are an important resource, attracting touriststo stalk or observe them, and providing jobs forstalkers and within the game meat industry, butthey may cause problems, such as road trafficaccidents, damage to crops and gardens andovergrazing in some priority habitats. TheCollaborative Deer Management project hasbeen investigating how they could be mosteffectively managed and what lessons could applymore widely. There seems to be littlecommunication across sectors with differingobjectives and a need for better quality data tohelp stakeholders pinpoint local conflicts andaddress these more collaboratively. The projecthas developed participatory GIS systems tosupport this. They recommend voluntaryschemes, tailored to local needs as more likely tobe successful, but these take time to achievesuccess and to integrate different types ofknowledge.4Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy


Mark Tinsley, Chief Executive,PC Tinsley Ltd vegetable growers:“We behave differently as atenant or as a landowner: ownershiphas been good for diverselandscapes in this country.”John Varley, Director, ClintonDevon Estates:“Most farmers and landmanagers think long-term and arepassionate about their stewardshipof the environment and the need tosustain viable rural economies andcommunities for the benefit of thenext generation.”Ian Brown, North East Englandfood and energy entrepreneur:“Owning/having rights over landmeans that a part of this country’spotential is with an individual orlegal structure. If that asset is notused for the good of mankind it is ashame, in certain circumstanceseven a tragedy!”Modelling the Impacts of the WaterFramework Directive has found that puttingthis European legislation into practice could haveserious financial implications. The Directive statesthat all European Community member countriesshould reach good chemical and ecological statusin inland and coastal waters by 2015, unless thecost of improvements disproportionatelyoutweighs the benefits. But how much are weprepared to pay for these kinds of improvements?The team developed a “water quality ladder” toshow the ecological and recreational impacts onrivers of different levels of pollution and usedvirtual reality images to show how rivers andlandscapes change with the level of pollution.They could then investigate the trade-offs thatpeople are prepared to make between their waterbills and water quality. This showed that the valueof cleaning up rivers is as much to do with locationas the extent of the clean up. Improving rivers inurban areas can be extremely valuable.Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy5


What needs to change?In order to move to a more integrated ecosystem approach, itwill be necessary to take the long view, while maintaining flexibility todeal with short term and unexpected changes. Climate change adds anadditional uncertainty.Policies must also be sensitive to spatial scale.The delivery of different services needs to beconsidered at different scales, from field-scalemanagement of vulnerable invertebrate habitats,to UK-wide delivery of targets for carbonreduction.Above all, policies need to be “joined up”more effectively. Current rural land use policy isoften fragmented and inadequately targeted.Lack of coordination increases the risk ofunintended consequences. Ecosystem servicescannot be considered effectively in isolation andsome policies may actually inhibit each other. Forexample, policies to tackle diffuse pollution andimprove farmland habitats might have beenpursued in tandem rather than separately. Onlyrecently have manures stabilised by anaerobicdigestion, in accordance with the Government's'digestion protocol', been reclassified as aresource rather than waste, thereby avoidingregulatory costs in the application of these toland. An integrated approach would meanavoiding or remedying such conflicts.It also seems clear that the market alone cannotbe relied upon to promote all ecosystem benefitsand government intervention is necessary toensure services such as landscape beauty andclean water.Relu projects are examining a range ofmechanisms that can support more integratedpolicymaking and delivery. These includepractical decision-making tools, economicinstruments, the role of advice and training andcreating new markets for services such as carbonstorage.6Tom Tew, Chief Scientist,Natural England:“In times of great change,business as usual is no longer goodenough to conserve our environment;our policies and actions must belarge-scale and integrated.”Mark Avery, Conservation Director,RSPB:“We need to change our diet.Being vegetarian four days a weekwould make a big change.”Maggie Gill, Chief Scientific AdviserRural Affairs and Environment,Scottish Government:“Many parts of the world (forexample the hills and uplands in theUK) are not suitable for crops, but dogrow grass which is converted bylivestock into human food.”Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeAngus Collingwood-Cameron NorthEast Director, Country Land andBusiness Association:“The trick must be to formulatea policy designed to provide foodsecurity and environmental security,whilst also taking on board the otherland use issues. This can only beachieved through funding to deliverthe non-market public goods, whilstensuring long term production.”Robin Matthews, Climate ChangeTheme Leader, Macaulay Land UseResearch Institute:“Land is a more-or-less limitedresource, there is only so much to goaround, and whatever we decide touse it for means that there will beless for something or someone else.”Landmarks for Policy


The Implications of a Nutrition Driven FoodPolicy for the Countryside project has foundthat if everyone adopted healthier eating habitsthis would have profound implications for the UKcountryside and we need to take theseunintended consequences into account. With lossof demand for red meat, remote regions moredependent on beef and sheep production andunsuited to arable production would see a declinein numbers of animals farmed. Loss ofemployment would have significant detrimentaleffects on the rural economy and migration tomore prosperous regions would increase. Theeffects of these changes would also be felt inupstream industries, particularly feed suppliers. Inthe east and south-east of England intensivehorticulture would expand, together with the useof poly-tunnels and irrigation. In such areas able totake advantage of the new arable and horticulturalopportunities, farming income would increase, butsignificant increases in regular farm employmentare unlikely as farmers would probably turn tocasual labour and mechanise more tasks.The Sustainable Uplands: Learning toManage Future Change project has foundevidence that reductions in the Single FarmPayment would lead to destocking on uplandfarms and an increase in burning off vegetation.This could in turn lead to more erosion of the peat,which causes discolouration of water supplies.This is already an expensive problem for watercompanies. They suggest that incentives areneeded to change land management practices toavoid this situation.The Angling in the Rural Environment projectfound that anglers are often good andappreciative observers of the natural world andtheir interactions with the aquatic andsurrounding habitats can be beneficial. Forexample, while a key factor for the River SwalePreservation Society in replanting sections ofriverbank was to enhance bankside refuge andfeeding habitat for fishes such as chub, there arewider benefits for wildlife. However, angling alsohas some negative impacts, such as the use oflamphreys as bait. Researchers found that severaltens of thousands of river lampreys, a threatenedspecies listed on the EU Habitats Directive, are soldas bait each year. Many are captured as theymigrate to spawn in the Swale and Ure, and thisrepresents the largest lamprey fishery in Britain.Anglers are, perhaps unwittingly, supportingcommercial fishing for a threatened species,highlighting the need for improved governanceand communication.Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy7


What policy mechanisms are available?Relu projects are throwing light on several of the mechanisms fordelivering integrated land management. These include: providinginformation, decision tools, advice, and training; promoting voluntaryagreements; imposing regulations; developing economic instruments(including taxes or levies, as well as incentives); and creating newmarkets. There is a particular focus on the extent to which these shouldbe developed and implemented using ‘top-down’ and/or ‘bottom-up’approaches, and on how the UK can usefully learn from experience fromelsewhere in the European Union and further afield.Since 1987, hundreds of millions of pounds ofpublic money have been spent on agrienvironmentschemes in the UK, with the aim ofreversing the decline in farmland species, butresults have been mixed. Researchers on theImproving the Success of Agri-environmentSchemes project think that there are probablytwo main reasons: first, farmers may not havesufficient understanding of the science behind theschemes and how to get the best out of them.Many participants may be encouraged into thescheme by the payments and the sense that theycan fulfil the requirements within their existingfarming system, and perhaps by the easier optionsof “not” doing things, such as leaving land withoutfertiliser, rather than engaging more positively andfully with the aims of the scheme. Secondly, thelandscape itself may present problems. Even if thefarmer is creating appropriate habitats, there maynot be populations of animals and plantssufficiently nearby to colonise them, or physicalbarriers may get in the way. Early results seem toshow that appropriately delivered training couldovercome some of these difficulties and make abig difference to the success of agri-environmentschemes.The Catchment Management for Protectionof Water Resources project is developingguidance on improving water quality andidentifying the governance arrangements thatwould be necessary. As one element, researchershave designed a report card, tailored to the issuesfaced by river managers in the UK. Watercompanies and environmental regulators aregathering a mass of data from monitoring thephysical, chemical and biological quality of thesurface water and groundwater in catchments. Butit is difficult for the ordinary consumer or citizen tomake sense of all this information, and how itrelates to their concerns about water quality,fishing, wildlife and the recreational use of rivers.The report card draws this information togetherwith simple graphics to indicate the overallecological health of the river system. Thepublication of this kind of information annuallycould enable consumers and other stakeholders toevaluate management decisions about theallocation of resources in their area.Peat deposits in England and Wales could store upto 41,000 tonnes of additional carbon per year, ifthey were in pristine condition. But in the 1950sextensive systems of drainage ditches were dug inan unsuccessful attempt to increase theproductivity of the land. This damage and erosioncould mean that peatlands are actually releasingcarbon into the atmosphere at a rate of 381,000tonnes of carbon annually, adding to the problemof global warming. The Sustainable Uplands:Learning to Manage Future Change projecthas shown how blocking drainage ditches and revegetatingbare peat can lock up carbon from theatmosphere and cut down the amount of carbonlost in brown stream water. The team has workedwith a range of stakeholder organisations to find away in which this work could effectively fund itself.They aim to trial a new corporate socialresponsibility scheme that will enable businessesto assist local projects to protect and enhancenatural carbon stores, whilst providing many otherenvironmental and social benefits.8Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy


Relu projects suggest an important role for localadaptation and innovation in land use policy, not‘blueprint’ solutions. This logically reflects thesheer diversity, across the UK, of landform,landscape and habitat, of the ecosystem servicessought, and of land managers and stakeholders.The devolved administrations in Scotland andWales are well-placed to interpret the needs oftheir communities. Integrated Regional Strategiesmay offer a similar opportunity in England. Amore radical approach would be furtherdevolution of responsibility to local authorities,but high levels of collaboration would be requiredto ensure planning and delivery of ecosystemservices takes place at an appropriate scale.Some local authorities have already beenmaking innovative use of rural developmentfunds. For example, one unitary Council isproposing to set up a series of ‘Rural EnvironmentForums’, each covering about 20 parishes. TheForums will foster dialogue between localstakeholders (residents, farmers, countrysideusers) and officials from relevant public agencies(Environment Agency, Natural England, ForestryCommission, and the Council). Theseopportunities for consultation and participation indecision-making should help local communitiesto ‘own’ local environmental management.The voluntary sector is well-placed to bridge thedivide between national ‘top-down’ and local‘bottom-up’ approaches. For example, bodies likethe National Trust and Royal Society for theProtection of Birds deliver public policy objectivesover their own land and through partnerships.Their land-holdings give them a stake in localcommunities, alongside the public sector andprivate land managers, and they provide expertadvice to individuals as well as analyses andrecommendations on national policy issues. Theyhave provided a local perspective as stakeholderswithin many Relu projects.Looking further afield, there are lessons tobe learnt from international experience. Othercountries have more experience of using landmanagementagreements to secure long termbenefits, and of ‘group agreements’ which delivercoordinated action across several farms ratherthan taking a piecemeal approach focused onindividual farms only. This is particularlyimportant in tackling challenges at a catchmentor landscape scale, such as improving waterquality or recreating networks of wildlife habitatsto facilitate adaptation to climate change.International experience also underlines theimportance of long term, farm-level advisorysupport, from locally based and trusted advisors.Alongside public policy mechanisms, there mayalso be a stronger role for the market itself.Organic food and products sold undercertification and labelling schemes tend to costmore than conventional products because themarket price reflects the costs of avoidingenvironmental damage. However, consumersupport for such labelling is not always reflectedin their purchasing decisions. Carbon-offsetting isa market-based mechanism for attracting a widerrange of funds for land management, generallythrough planting trees and investing in renewableenergy schemes. Relu research has added to thisportfolio by investigating the potential forrestoring peatlands as long-term stores forcarbon.‘Habitat banking’ – the restoration, creationor enhancement of habitats to compensate fordevelopment impacts elsewhere – may be afurther means of using a market mechanism tosecure long term environmental landmanagement benefits, encourage collaborationbetween land managers, or secure beneficialchange at a landscape scale. The concept involvesdevelopers purchasing credits from a ‘bank’ whichuses these to fund the purchase and/ormanagement of land to yield long termenvironmental gains.The Sustainable and Safe Recycling ofLivestock Waste project has developed a visualtool for farmers and farm advisors to use to assessthe risk of pathogenic organisms entering thewater supply. This kind of pollution hasimplications for public health and for localindustries depending on clean water such as shellfisheries, irrigated crops and leisure. The tools theyhave designed helps farmers and their advisors todetermine where mitigation might be best suitedand at what cost.Julian Dennis, Director of Quality,Environment and Sustainability,Wessex Water:“Working closely with one farmwe have managed to reduce diffusepollution by up to 60% just bylooking at local conditions.”Vicki Swales, Land Use Policy Analyst:“We need to approach land useplanning at an ecologically relevantand socially meaningful scale, forexample, at catchment level, ratherthan be constrained by currentadministrative boundaries.”Les Firbank, Head, North WykeResearch:“It should be possible to usescience to design future landscapesin which land is used according to itspotential to deliver food, fibre,housing, habitats, water and so on,according to the climate, soil typeand topography.”Neil Sinden, Director of Policy andCampaigns, Campaign to ProtectRural England:“If we are to deliver whatsociety needs from land then infuture we need to safeguard andenhance the role of spatial planningin public policy. And we need tounderstand better the complex jobthat it performs in seeking to securethe long term, public interest in thedevelopment and use of land.”Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy9


Can models and indicators help?Increasingly sophisticated techniques are being developed byRelu projects to model interactions between land use, land managers,other stakeholders, the economy and the environment. This kind ofmodelling can usefully inform policy, particularly where it is grounded inlocal experience, but it is important to recognise that modelling is moreabout understanding uncertainty than delivering definitive answers. Itdoes, however, help to illuminate the trade-offs to be made betweendifferent ecosystem services.Techniques for sustainability appraisal and lifecycleanalysis are also being developed by Reluprojects to help understand conflicts and tradeoffsand there is wider potential for theirapplication, not only in future policy making butin analysing current land use and in providing amore rounded global economic, social andenvironmental view of the impacts of localactions.Indicators help track policy outcomes, butneed to be reviewed regularly to ensure that theyare not themselves ‘driving’ policy (so that the aimbecomes ‘to improve the indicator’ rather than tosecure the underlying outcome). There aregovernment indicators for ‘sustainabledevelopment’ and ‘biodiversity’, and otherenvironmental indicators are being developed.Several Relu projects touch on sustainabilityindicators. For example, one project suggests thatit is easier, and just as valuable, to monitor arableweed species in fields as to monitor birds. Thiswork will assist in developing new and moremeaningful indicators to help assess theperformance of policy interventions.10Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy


Robin Matthews, Climate ChangeTheme Leader, Macaulay Land UseResearch Institute:“Any debate on land use needsto consider not just how land is usedin the UK, but also the impact thatthis will have on land use elsewherein the world. The idea of a ecologicalfootprint is a useful one, i.e. theamount of land that would berequired to sustainably support ourlifestyles. In Britain, the averageecological footprint has beencalculated as 5.5 ha/person, but thebiological capacity is only about 1.5ha/person. Where is the differencecoming from?”Sue Everett, independentecologist and countrysidemanagement consultant:“Do we need to look at acountryside where there areconsiderably more farmers, andmany more different crops grown?For example, should we be taking acue from the agro-forestrymovement? Should we also beconsidering a debate on land reform(which has already happened inScotland, but not in England)? Howcan we restore an affinity betweenpeople and the land, and increaseopportunities for more people tohave access to it as producers?”Relu’s project Modelling the Impacts of theWater Framework Directive has workedextensively with policymakers, including Defra, toexamine the impact of changing land use uponboth rural incomes and the environment. Theteam has investigated the impact of alternativemeasures to deliver the improvements in riverwater quality mandated under the EU WaterFramework Directive. One of the key issues is theproblem of diffuse nutrient pollution fromfertilisers applied to farm land. Various measuresare being considered, including reductions infertiliser applications, changes in activities andalterations in farm practice. The project linkseconomic models of farm activity and incomes tohydrological models of water pollution. Applyingthis model shows that there are win-win options(alternatives which deliver greater reductions inpollution at lower cost to farmers) and that a moresophisticated approach to policy (in particularchanging land use in the most pollution vulnerablezones) can greatly improve the effectiveness ofinterventions.Tony Hams, lead board memberfor protected areas, NaturalEngland and Chair, DerbyshireWildlife Trust:“Our aim should be to ensurethat the use of land respects andmaintains our biodiversity, landscapeand access interests, and how a wellmanaged environmental resourcecan contribute to our economic andsocial wellbeing and thereby tosustainable development.”Mark Avery, Conservation Director,RSPB:“The folly of recent bio-energypolicy shows us what happens whenwe try to force production to answerall the questions. We must includeconserving and enhancing wildlife,mitigating and adapting to climatechange, managing water resourcesand quality, and providing outdoorspace for people’s exercise andspiritual enrichment as equalobjectives, alongside production, inour land management policies. Thatis the only way to gain theenvironmental riches we hunger for,and be able to feed ourselves andour children, too.”Farmland birds depend on a range of resources inthe landscape for their survival. Nesting sites, foodresources and protection from predators are allrequired, but their availability in the landscape isoften highly variable. One of the principal sourcesof variation in landscape features is likely to beindividual farmer preferences and theManagement Options for BiodiverseFarming project has asked farmers about a rangeof land management goals. Although maximisingprofits from the farm business was almost alwaysthe most important objective, many farmers saidthat other considerations mattered too, includingrisk mitigation, appearance of the farm, autonomyand business complexity. They have thenmodelled future scenarios, including the reductionor elimination of set-aside. Their model predictswhich crops are likely to replace set-aside when itis lost from the landscape. This in turn affectswhich birds will be winners from increases incertain crops and which will be losers. The teamcan, therefore, predict how biodiversity will beaffected by policy decisions.Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy11


What stands in our way?Securing integrated land management based on an ecosystemservices approach will require significant change in policies and processes.This will not happen if we remain entrenched in current ways of thinking.Mindsets which insist on the pre-eminence ofone particular interest, whether that is “foodproduction” or “biodiversity”, will not further thekind of holistic approach that is required. Tooptimise the delivery of all the services societyseeks from land, it will be necessary to lookahead, be prepared to develop new knowledgeand skills to meet the challenges and tocollaborate. Securing sustainable “joined-up”delivery of services across boundaries – whetherthese are between individual land holdings orbetween administrative areas, will posesignificant challenges.There has been an emphasis on working withnatural processes but this should not excludeusing engineering solutions when these can be ofbenefit. We should not be forced into choicesbetween “low-tech” and “high-tech”. For example,modern satellite technology underpins the use ofprecision farming techniques to match fertiliserinputs to varying crop nutrients across a field,thereby minimising wastage and run-off.Our systems for managing land use will betested, and we must be prepared for that. Therewill be major challenges of disease, extremeweather and international conflicts. Above all,climate change will pose major uncertainties thatmust be factored into our approach to land use.The Energy Production on Farms ThroughAnaerobic Digestion project suggests that ruralcommunities in the UK could gain social andeconomic benefits if anaerobic digestion wasadopted more widely and it could even mean lesschemical fertiliser being applied to land andreduce the amount of manure and slurry pollutingwaterways. So what is holding farmers back?Researchers say that if the UK government is tosee an expansion in the technology similar to thatin some other European countries, we wouldprobably need more financial incentives, withfarmers rewarded for better management ofagricultural residues, particularly manure. Recentgovernment announcements have offered moresupport through the Renewables ObligationCertificates scheme and cash for demonstrationprogrammes, but longer-term security of incometo cover the capital investment is still lacking.Carbon trading could also have an effect, orsubsidies linked to methane abatement.Environmentalists and anti-poverty campaignershave expressed concern about crops being grownto provide fuel at the expense of food production,but it would be possible to impose limits on theratios of high and low energy inputs into theprocess to encourage the use of more wasteproducts. The project is producing models thatanalyse the economics, energy production andland-use implications, as well as the potentialsocial benefits and environmental drawbacks.The Merits of Consuming VegetablesProduced Locally and Overseas project hasbeen looking at the advantages and disadvantagesof food produced in the UK compared withimports from Uganda, Kenya and Spain. Althoughdebate has tended to concentrate on food miles,they found that this isn’t the only issue we need totake into consideration: the picture is much morecomplicated. For example, they found that 48% ofthe energy used during the sowing, growing,harvesting, packaging, storage, transport andconsumption of UK potatoes is expended in thekitchen. Simple actions such as putting a lid on thesaucepan can help to reduce this. Storage,domestic transportation and season also have tobe taken into account. Eating home-grownproduce may sound more “green” but out-ofseasonvegetables grown under glass in the UKmay consume more energy than those grownoutside in Spain and imported.How can policymakers decide where to focusresources? Relu researchers working on theSocial and Environmental Inequalities inRural Areas project have collated a large amountof information about social, economic andenvironmental conditions across rural England, inorder to pinpoint areas of the country that areenvironmentally disadvantaged. Opportunities forrecreation and access to services and affordablehousing are often poor in rural areas, although theresearchers did find that such disadvantages maybe offset by aesthetic and amenity benefits and astrong sense of community, and are experienceddifferentially by different social groups. Theyrecommended that where policymakers aretargeting areas of high disadvantage, they shouldtake account of localised inequalities so that theycan focus on pockets of greatest need.12Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy


John Oldham, Head of Research,Scottish Agricultural College:“In the most basic terms rural,and indeed other, land is used tomeet the needs of our, and otherspecies. It is only in relatively recenttimes that our species has reached apoint at which we have exercisedindulgent and sometimes negligentuse of land. That is we have begun touse land to meet our ‘wants’ ratherthan simply to meet our needs andhave not properly considered thelong-term consequences of ourcurrent activities.”Paul Woodcock Regional Director forthe Anglian Region of theEnvironment Agency:“A climate change proofed toolkit aimed at reducing flood risk,through the right land uses, appearsto be a prize worth striving for.”Mark Tinsley, Chief Executive,PC Tinsley Ltd vegetable growers:“Farmers would prefer to workin an unsubsidised market driven“environment” but would qualify thiswith a requirement to be on arelatively equitable footing withtheir competitors. Competition isthe most effective stimulus toefficient systems. We should beseeking to move to a situation inwhich outputs that can be tradedshould not be subsidised, whilstthose that have intrinsic as opposedto market value will be supported bytax payers, for example habitat orflood protection.”Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy13


Relu land use projects:Angling in the Rural EnvironmentThis project focuses on the role that angling, as a leisure activity,plays in the economy and the UK countryside. Angling is seen asimportant for rural employment, but rivers are under pressurefrom a whole range of human activities so their ability to sustainflora and fauna may be at risk. This project analyses the complexnatural and socio-economic inter-linkages between river, fishing,biodiversity and institutions of governance and practice. Theresults will be used to inform policy on integrated development ofthe rural river environment.Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Oughton, Newcastle University.Other institutions: Aberystwyth University; University ofDurham; University of Hull.Research team: Chris Bear; Damien Bubb; Jonathan Bolland;Louise Bracken; Michael Carrithers; Sally Eden; Martyn Lucas; JaneWheelock; Geoff Whitman.Catchment Management for Protection ofWater ResourcesReductions in water pollution have so far mainly been achievedthrough regulation and investment in waste water treatment, butthe underlying water quality problem in much of the UK remainsdiffuse pollution derived from current and past land use plusatmospheric deposition. Best management practices and buffersthat protect water courses and recharge zones can achieve much,but ultimately changes in land use may be needed in the worstaffected areas. This project looks at the means, the governanceneeds, and the costs and benefits of alternative approaches,drawing on an analysis of international experience andinvestigation of two UK case study catchments.Principal Investigator: Laurence Smith, University of London(SOAS).Other institutions: University of East Anglia; University of Kent;Cornell University and New York State Water Resources Institute;New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.Research team: Alastair Bailey; David Benson; Patricia Bishop;Dylan Bright; Marco Civitareale; Hadrian Cook; Jonathan Hillman;Kevin Hiscock; Alex Inman; Andrew Jordan; Tobias Krueger;Jennifer Morley; Keith Porter, Mary Jane Porter; Yuan Zhou.Collaborative Deer ManagementThere are many associated costs and benefits in the managementof deer. Deer management creates jobs for stalkers on forestryand sporting estates and people in the meat industry, and deercreate particular landscapes that attract tourists. However in someareas, high deer numbers cause damage to sensitive habitats, tocrops and gardens and cause road traffic accidents. Thereforethere are many different attitudes to deer and conflicts on howbest to manage them. This project is investigating how wellpeople involved in deer management work together and how thiscan be improved so that the benefits are maximised whilst thecosts are minimised.Principal Investigator: Justin Irvine, Macaulay Institute.Other institutions: Forest Research; University of Aberdeen;University of Edinburgh; University of St. Andrews; University ofKent; University of YorkResearch team: Helen Armstrong; Zoe Austin; Norman Dandy;Stefano Fiorini; Liz O’Brien; Brenda Mayle; Douglas Macmillan;Sharon Philip; Louise Ross; Jim Smart; Amy Turner; Rehema White;Piran White; Steve Yearley; Rene Van der Val.The Effects of Scale in Organic AgricultureA move to organic farming can have significant effects on wildlife,soil and water quality, as well as changing the ways in which foodis supplied, the economics of farm business and indeed theattitudes of farmers themselves. This project addresses two keyquestions: firstly, what causes organic farms to be arranged inclusters at local, regional and national scales, rather than be spreadmore evenly throughout the landscape, and secondly, how theecological, hydrological, socio-economic and cultural impacts oforganic farming may vary due to neighbourhood effects at avariety of scales.Principal Investigator: Sigrid Stagl, University of Sussex.Other institutions: Cranfield University; The Organic ResearchCentre – Elm Farm; Henry Doubleday Research Association;Macaulay Institute; University of Cambridge; University of Leeds;University of Manchester.Research team: Tim Benton; Stephen Carver; Ben Davies; GarethDavies; Helen Durham; Doreen Gabriel; Richard Godwin; LauraHathaway-Jenkins; William Kunin; Unai Pascual; Bruce Pearce; DanRigby; Steven Sait; Ruben Sakraban; Ulrich Schmutz; Lee-AnnSutherland.Energy Production on Farms Through Anaerobic DigestionThis project is examining the potential for the development ofanaerobic digestion on farms, and the contribution that this couldmake to diversification of agricultural practice by enhanced landuse planning for bioenergy production. The research addressesthe policy issues, both within the broader European Communityand the UK, to identify the drivers and obstacles that couldstimulate or inhibit the development of on-farm digestion as partof a wider strategy for rural development.Principal Investigator: Charles Banks, University ofSouthampton.Other institutions: University of Reading.Research team: Laura Clements; Donna Clarke; Philip Jones; GuyPoppy; Andrew Salter; Alan Swinbank; Richard Tranter.Impacts of Increasing Land Use Under Energy CropsFuture policies are likely to encourage more land use under energycrops: principally willow, grown as short rotation coppice, andmiscanthus, a tall, exotic grass. These crops will contribute to theUK’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions. However, it is notclear how decisions about appropriate areas for growing the crops,based on climate, soil and water, should be balanced againstimpacts on the landscape, social acceptance, biodiversity and therural economy. This project integrates social, economic,hydrological and biodiversity studies in an interdisciplinaryapproach to develop a scientific framework for sustainabilityappraisal of the medium and long term conversion of land toenergy crops.Principal Investigator: Angela Karp, Rothamsted Research.Other institutions: CEH Wallingford; Game and WildlifeConservation Trust, University of East Anglia; University of Exeter.Research team: Katy Appleton; Eleanor Blyth; David Bohan; AlanBond; Allan Butler; Mark Cunningham; Trudie Dockerty; JohnFarrar; Jon Finch; Alison Haughton; Edie Jolie; Andrew Lovett;Victoria Mallott; Giles Martin; Dave McNeil; Mark Mallott; AndrewRiche; Paul Rosier; Rufus Sage; Ian Shield; Gilla Sünnenberg; MartinTurner; Geoff Wicks.Implications of a Nutrition Driven Food Policy forthe CountrysideHealthy eating is the mantra of the moment but are there ways inwhich we could enhance the nutritional qualities of the food weeat, and what would the effect be for the countryside if we all tookon board the government’s healthy eating advice? This project isinvestigating whether the type of pasture cattle graze on affectsthe fats in their meat, whether growing soft fruit and salad cropsunder new ultra-violet transparent film enhances the levels ofantioxidants that can reduce cancer and what the consumerdemand might be for such products.Principal investigator: Bruce Traill, University of ReadingResearch team: Mattieu Arnoult; Nicholas Battey; Laurie Butler;Stephanie Chambers; Eddie Deaville; Ian Givens; Michael Gordon;Paul Hadley; Kate Harvey; Philip John; Philip Jones; Kirsty Kleim;Alexandra Lobb; Julie Lovegrove; Paulina Macias; MarioMazzocchi; Rebecca Morgan; Simon Mortimer; Matthew Ordidge;Alan Poots; Richard Tiffin; Richard Tranter; Joseph Tzanopoulos;Eleni Vysini; Alexandra WagstaffeImproving the Success of Agri-environment SchemesAgri-environment schemes are intended to improve naturalhabitats but the results are mixed. This project is a five year studyof how well wildlife habitats are created under such schemes, andwhether training for farmers improves the outcomes.Principal Investigator: James Bullock, CEH Wallingford.Other institutions: University of Exeter; University of Reading.Research team: Richard Broughton; Stephanie Harris; ShelleyHinsley; Matt Lobley; Morag McCracken; Simon Mortimer; RichardPywell; Eirini Saratsi; Ruth Swetnam; Michael Winter.Integrated Management of FloodplainsRecent flood events in Britain have heightened interest in exploringsolutions that can join up multiple objectives such as managingflood risk, water resource management, enhanced biodiversity,enjoyment of the countryside, and support to rural livelihoods.The project is addressing these issues and re-examining a selectionof agricultural flood defence schemes, previously studied by theresearch team in the 1980s, to identify and explain changes inland and water management that have occurred over the last40 years.Principal Investigator: Joe Morris, Cranfield University.Other institutions: Open University; River Restoration Centre;Ecological Solutions.Research team: Andy Blowers; Quentin Dawson;Tonny de Vries; David Gowing; Tim Hess; Peter Leeds-Harrison;Jenny Mant; Ben Moore; Helena Posthumus; Jim Rouquette;Paul Trawick; Graham Tucker.14Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy


Management Options for Biodiverse FarmingIn this project, natural and social scientists are looking at the social,economic and political factors underlying farming practice, andthe implications for biodiversity when farmers decide to changewhat they do or how they do it. They are using ecological modelsto predict how key biodiversity indicators such as weeds and birdswill respond to the way the land is managed.Principal Investigator: Bill Sutherland, University of Cambridge.Other institutions: British Trust for Ornithology; CranfieldUniversity; University of East Anglia; University of Reading;University of Sheffield.Research team: Phil Atkinson; Eric Audsley; Alison Bailey;Ira Cooke; Rob Freckleton; Anil Graves; Elizabeth Mattison; JoeMorris; Ken Norris; Simon Queenborough; Daniel Sandars; GavinSiriwadena; Phil Strachan; Paul Trawick; Juliet Vickery;Andrew Watkinson.Merits of Consuming Vegetables Produced Locallyand OverseasIs importing food always a bad thing? This project is researchingthe advantages and disadvantages of consuming locally producedfruit and vegetables as opposed to fruit and vegetables producedoverseas. Social and natural scientists are considering a range ofrelevant factors: greenhouse gas emissions, local employment,consumer perception of relevant attributes, nutritional quality ofproduce and community characteristics relating to localfood cultures.Principal Investigator: Gareth Edwards-Jones, Bangor University.Other institutions: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,University of Surrey, Makerere University, UgandaResearch team: Llorenc Mila i Canals; Anna Croft; Paul Cross;Graham Day; Rhiannon Tudor Edwards; Barry Hounsome; IanHarris; Almudina Hospido; Natalia Ivashikina; David Jones;Georgia Koerber; Philip Nyeko; Claire Paisley; Deri Tomos;Monica Truninger; Andrew Wilson; Elizabeth YorkModelling the Impacts of the Water Framework DirectiveThis project brings together hydrology, economics and otherdisciplines to examine both the physical impacts of the EU WaterFramework Directive upon rivers and how the changes in land useneeded to achieve a reduction in pollutants in water are likely toimpact upon already fragile farming communities. The projectalso applies a variety of innovative techniques to attempt to valuethe likely benefits of improving outdoor water quality.Principal Investigator: Ian Bateman, University of East Anglia.Other institutions: Askham-Bryan College; CEH Wallingford;Cranfield University; University of Manchester; University ofAberystwyth; Virje Universiteit, Amsterdam.Research team: Eric Audsley; Sandra Barns; Rodney Beard; AmyBinner; Roy Brouwer; Emma Coombes; John Crowther; HelenDavies; Brett Day; Amelie Deflandre-Vlandas; Silvia Ferrini; CarloFezzi; David Hadley; Danyel Hampson; Stephanie Hime; MichaelHutchins; Andrew Jones; David Kay; Graham Leeks; Mervyn Lewis;Andrew Lovett; Colin Neal; Kerry Pearn; Paulette Posen; Dan Rigby;Daniel Sandars; Marije Schaafsma; Carl Stapleton; Dawn Turnbull;Kerry Turner; Bruce Willoughby.Social and Environmental Inequalities in Rural AreasThis project is examining patterns of inequality in the distributionof social, economic and environmental goods and services in ruralareas. They are considering how methods for measuring inequalitydiffer within the natural and social sciences and exploring ways toresolve these differences and find a common approach. Havingidentified inequalities the team will be focusing on their implications,considering whether they can be regarded as unfair, and consultingwith local residents about their perceptions of local inequalityand injustice.Principal Investigator: Meg Huby, University of York.Research team: Steve Cinderby; Annamarieke de Bruin;Piran White.The Sustainability of Hill FarmingMoorland ecosystems are particularly fragile. This project isinvestigating how we can manage them in a way that deliverssustainable hill farming communities while also protecting theenvironment. Taking the Peak District as a case study, theresearchers are examining how farmers respond to policy changesand how they can design business plans to cope with such changesmost effectively. The team is developing new modelling tools forexamining the dynamics of moorland change across wholelandscapes, how the actions of one farmer affect those ofneighbours and how upland bird species rely on a diversity ofhabitats across the landscape.Principal Investigator: Paul Armsworth, University of Sheffield.Other institutions: Moors for the Future; University ofNottingham; University of Stirling.Research team: Szvetlana Acs; Aletta Bonn; Martin Dallimer;Kevin Gaston; Nick Hanley; Phil Robertson; Dugald Tinch;Paul Wilson.Sustainable and Safe Recycling of Livestock WasteDairy and beef farmers provide consumers with reliable sources ofmilk and meat but can we be sure that the animal waste is disposedof safely and without environmental and social risks? This projectis investigating current perceptions of farmers, retailers, consumersand local downstream industries, such as tourism and shell fisheries,about pathogen transfers to the food chain. Changes inmanagement practices could help to address the problem, and afarm-scale risk assessment tool is being developed to assess this.The project is determining the impacts of such changes on farmcosts, and the potential costs to other stakeholder groups and theregion as a whole.Principal Investigator: Dave Chadwick, Institute of Grasslandand Environmental Research.Other institutions: University of Exeter, Lancaster University.Research team: Rob Fish; Louise Heathwaite; Chris Hodgson;David Oliver; Michael Winter.Sustainable Uplands: Learning to Manage Future ChangeThis project combines knowledge from local stakeholders,policymakers and social and natural scientists to anticipate,monitor and sustainably manage rural change in UK uplands. Theresult will be a choice of options to address future challenges thatcould never have been developed by any group alone. Factorsdriving future change are modelled with computers to developdetailed pictures of possible future social, economic andenvironmental conditions. Stakeholders and researchers thenidentify strategies that could help protect and enhance futurelivelihoods and the environment and evaluate them throughcomputer models, site visits and other participatory methods.Principal Investigators: Klaus Hubacek and Mark Reed,University of Leeds.Other institutions: University of Aberdeen; University ofDurham; University of Sheffield.Research team: Nesha Beharry; Aletta Bonn; Sarah Buckmaster;Tim Burt; Dan Chapman; Pippa Chapman; Gareth Clay; StephenCornell; Andy Dougill; Evan Fraser; Jenny Hodgson; Joseph Holden;Brian Irvine; Nanlin Jin; Michael Kirkby; Bill Kunin; Oliver Moore;Christina Prell; Claire Quinn; Jan Sendzimir; Sigrid Stagl; LindsayStringer; Mette Termansen; Fred Worrall.Testing a Community Approach to Catchment ManagementThis project investigates a specific catchment – Loweswater in theLake District – and looks at how scientists, institutional stakeholders,farmers and residents can share expertise and work togetherpositively for the benefit of their environment. They areconsidering questions such as whether the current “carrot andstick” initiatives are the best option to ensure that landownerslook after the environment, and whether involving local peoplemore in decision making and using their local knowledge andexpertise would be a viable approach.Principal Investigator: Claire Waterton, Lancaster University.Other institutions: CEH Lancaster.Research team: Kenneth Bell; Stephen Maberly; Lisa Norton;Judith Tsouvalis; Nigel Watson.Understanding Environmental Knowledge ControversiesScientists, and those who use their work, are having to think againabout how science should inform democratic decision-makingand the role of public engagement in this process. Taking theexample of flood risk management, this project examines howand why the scientific practice of hydrological modelling becomessubject to scientific dispute and public controversy, and with whatconsequences for public policy. With hydrological models nowcapable of connecting local flood events to land managementpractices at catchment scale, the project is developing ‘competencygroups’ as a new method for bringing the knowledge of localpeople with experience of flooding to bear on the modelling offlood risk.Principal Investigator: Sarah Whatmore, University of Oxford.Other institutions: University of Durham; Newcastle University;University of East Anglia.Research team: Susan Bradley; Andrew Donaldson; CatharinaLandstrom; Stuart Lane; Anders Munk; Nick Odoni; Neil Ward;Geoff Whitman; Penny Widdison.Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy15


The UK Research Councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use Programme is anunprecedented collaboration between the Economic and Social ResearchCouncil (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences ResearchCouncil (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).It has a budget of £24 million with additional funding provided by theScottish Government and the Department for Environment, Food andRural Affairs (Defra).Written and produced by Anne Liddon,Science Communications ManagerAssistance and contributions from Relu researchers and stakeholdersand particularly from land use policy analysts Alan Woods andVicki Swales are gratefully acknowledged.Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeCentre for Rural EconomySchool of Agriculture, Food and Rural DevelopmentNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneNE1 7RUTelephone: 0191 222 6903Email: relu@ncl.ac.ukwww.relu.ac.ukRural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeBriefing Series No 9: Landmarks for Policy, published November 2009Design: www.infinitedesign.com16Rural Economy and Land Use ProgrammeLandmarks for Policy

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines