Since April 2015, CCRI researchers have been working as one of 14 pan-European partners on a project which is investigating the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry, aiming to unlock the synergies between economic and environmental benefits for society.
The project name is PEGAGUS, an acronym for ‘Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management: Unlocking the Synergies’.
More than one year on, the first newsletter of the PEGASUS project was launched in May providing information on the project’s progress to date and some of the emerging findings as to how a greater provision of public goods and ecosystem services from different farming and forestry systems in the EU is possible.
Janet Dwyer contributed to an article in the newsletter explaining how the analytical framework for the project was developed, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to applying existing theories and concepts, and how this will be complemented by findings from a mapping exercise of the provision of public goods and ecosystem services and an analysis of the drivers influencing the provision of environmental and social benefits.
The analytical framework is currently being used and tested by the project teams in ten EU countries in their field work as part of the 34 farming and forestry case studies of the project. The case studies are diverse and include organic farming in mountain regions, intensive olive production and recreation in urban forest regions.
The aim of the case studies is to examine the issues faced in ensuring effective provision of public goods and ecosystem services from farming and forest activities and find solutions to enable the long term economic social and environmental sustainability of the EU’s farmed and forest areas. The PEGASUS team have identified 19 ‘Environmental and Socially Beneficial Outcomes’ (ESBOs) to describe public goods and ecosystem services that are commonly associated with agriculture and forestry which are being explored in the case studies. These are:
|Water quality||Achieving (or maintaining) good ecological status of surface water and good chemical status of groundwater|
|Water availability||Achieving (or maintaining) a regular supply of water (i.e. avoidance of water scarcity)|
|Air quality||Achieving (or maintaining) minimised levels of harmful emissions and odour levels|
|GHG emissions||Achieving (or maintaining) minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions|
|Carbon sequestration / storage||Achieving (or maintaining) maximisation of carbon sequestration and storage|
|Fire protection||Achieving (or maintaining) a high level of prevention and minimisation of impacts of potential fires|
|Flood protection||Achieving (or maintaining) minimisation of impacts of potential floods|
|Soil functionality||Achieving (or maintaining) good biological and geochemical condition of soils|
|Soil protection||Achieving (or maintaining) minimisation of soil degradation|
|Species and habitats||Achieving (or maintaining) the presence of diverse and sufficiently plentiful species and habitats (ecological diversity)|
|Pollination||Achieving (or maintaining) high levels of pollination|
|Biological pest and disease control through biodiversity||Achieving (or maintaining) high levels of biological pest and disease prevention and minimisation of the impacts of potential outbreaks using biodiversity|
|Landscape character and cultural heritage||Maintaining or restoring a high level of landscape character and cultural heritage|
|Outdoor recreation||Achieving (or maintaining) a good level of public access to the countryside to ensure public outdoor recreation and enjoyment|
|Educational activities||Achieving (or maintaining) a good level of educational and demonstration activities in relation to farming and forestry|
|Health and social inclusion||Achieving (or maintaining) an appropriate level of therapeutic /social rehabilitation activities in relation to farming and forestry|
|Farm animal welfare||Achieving (or maintaining) the implementation of high farm animal welfare practices on farms|
|Rural vitality||Achieving (or maintaining) active and socially resilient rural communities|
The CCRI is responsible for four UK case studies, which are:
- WILD river basin management initiative
- Hope Farm – intensive, sustainable arable farming in the east of England
- North Pennines multi-stakeholder partnership for sustainable uplands
- Care farms.
Chris Short is leading the WILD case study, which is a three-year initiative aimed at bringing about environmental improvements to the rivers and other watercourses in and surrounding the Cotswold Water Park by using an integrated approach. Phase 1 of the WILD project, which concluded on March 31st 2016, brought agencies, the private sector, local communities and landowners together to manage and resolve challenges on local water courses. For the PEGASUS project, CCRI is conducting interviews with with farmers, stakeholders, partners and the wider community to investigate how this integrated project has strengthened the environmental interest among farmers and communities regarding the water environment and helped agencies deliver multiple benefits. A key aspect of the evaluation will be to assess the effectiveness of the approach to implement the required changes in land management and infrastructure management.
Janet Dwyer has been working on the Hope Farm case study together with Anne Marechal from IEEP, assisted by CCRI Placement Student, Eleanor Hawketts. Hope Farm is a 181-hectare arable farm which was purchased by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in 2000, after a large-scale public appeal to raise funds. In buying the farm, the RSPB’s goal was to use it to test and demonstrate management practices to support and enhance farmland bird populations, to inform national policy. It also aimed to show that these practices could be combined with profitable commercial farming. The farm was chosen because it was typical of arable farms in central and eastern England, producing on good quality, clay-based soils. The aim of the PEGASUS case-study project was to provide the RSPB with fresh ideas for the future direction of Hope farm and approaches to disseminate key ideas to surrounding farms, as well as giving other stakeholders the opportunity to voice their ideas about how Hope Farm could be best utilized.
Following on from an initial literature and data review, the research team spoke to farmers, farm advisors, representatives of environment agencies. This case study identified that sharing ideas and experimenting with new approaches has the greatest potential to unlock new synergies, and the RSPB is now working in partnership with farmers and other technical and market experts all based in the local area.
Dan Keech, Paul Courtney and Katarina Kubinakova have been working on the Care Farms case-study. A literature review was undertaken and typology of care farms identified before undertaking interviews at three farms covering farm diversification, institutionalized care and social cohesion.
The key ESBOs are social but care farms depend on high quality environmental ESBOs. It is clear that there is also huge growth potential, as well as an interest in improving the governance approach. It is clear that health benefits have been and continue to be difficult to measure, the case-study has provided a strong focus on how non-monetary drivers can significantly influence both ESBO provision and the nature of commercial/business operations.
Pete Gaskell and Nick Lewis have made two extended visits to this case study area, which is focused on the Allen Valleys in the North Pennines AONB. It is an area of wild and dramatic moorland with high plateaus and valleys and numerous small towns and villages. Pete and Nick have conducted meetings with various stakeholders, including the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership, who are carrying out a four-year Heritage Lottery Funded project that aims to conserve and restore some of the area’s natural and cultural heritage and whose work is similar in nature to the overall objectives of the PEGASUS project.
During participatory workshops with members of the local community and other stakeholders participants selected what they felt were the most important five ESBOs for this area.
The three ESBOs ranked highest by the participants were:
- Rural Vitality
- Landscape Character and Cultural Heritage
- Species and Habitats
At the end of June four members of the UK PEGASUS team attended a project meeting in Estonia. During the meeting 30 team members heard results from all 34 case studies and determined how they would prioritise the selection of 10 in-depth case studies for deeper analysis, this included one of the four UK case-studies.
At the time of writing, the UK is proposing the WILD project for inclusion in the final ten case studies because it is a mature initiative that is able to provide robust evidence as to the impact of this integrated approach. Aspects of the approach might be transferable to other situations across the EU and the dynamic between public and private partnership is a new area of development.
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