Chris Short and Nick Lewis of the CCRI, in collaboration with Sion Brackenbury of Commons Vision, undertook an evaluation of the role played by Commons Development Officers (CDO) in Glastir.
Glastir Common Land Element (CLE) and the Commons Development Officer approach have made a strong case for working differently. Across Wales eighteen CDOs were appointed to cover the whole of Wales through the three Local Action Groups (LAGs) Menter Môn, Cadwyn Clwyd and PLANED. The LAGs adopted a LEADER-like approach; this is a bottom-up approach valuing local people as the main asset of rural areas, working with Grazing Associations (GAs) to develop their confidence and capacity to go forwards with an application to the Glastir Common Land Element. The success of the CDO approach is demonstrated in the uptake of Glastir CLE with 106 Glastir agreements issued involving 947 active graziers during 2011-2012 which equates to 67,500ha of common land. During the 2013 Glastir CLE round, provisional figures suggest a further 26,000ha entering the scheme which equates to over 50% of all Welsh common land by area. The CDO LEADER-like approach was aimed at building capacity of graziers and GAs has been shown to achieve significant benefit. This report evaluates the impact of the LEADER-like approach in an agricultural extension context. Information was collected from three sources, (i) the GAs who participated in a telephone questionnaire, (ii) the CDOs and (iii) the Stakeholders who have worked with the CDOs since their appointment in 2011. Overall, there was a high level of satisfaction amongst GAs for the CDO role with over 90% agreeing that the role was ‘very important’. The availability of an informed and knowledgeable CDO was important in enabling Grazing to proceed with the Glastir CLE scheme. The report recommends that this approach should be considered elsewhere in the delivery of Agri-environment Schemes (AES) in Wales.