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CCRI leading Defra-funded project exploring potential of co-designed long-term agreements for landscape recovery

The Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), based at University of Gloucestershire, has been successful in its application to take part in Defra’s Tests and Trials programme.

The initiative, which will be co-led by the CCRI’s Dr Charlotte Chivers and Prof Chris Short, will contribute to the development of the Landscape Recovery scheme of the future environmental land management schemes.

The CCRI will be working in collaboration with Southern Water and other interested stakeholders across South East England.

A farmer-focused approach will be used to explore how long-term agreements (of 30+ years) could help the Government achieve landscape recovery. It will also work with land agents and other non-farmer stakeholders to ensure outputs are credible to both farmers and policymakers.

The Landscape recovery scheme will provide environmental benefits across wide areas of land rather than within disparate pockets.

Draft long-term agreements will be co-designed with land managers and other stakeholders to ensure they are realistic whilst contributing to landscape recovery.

This will involve building an understanding of the drivers and requirements of land managers in lowland productive areas, which will be achieved by carrying out workshops where farmers will be presented with scenarios under which long-term agreements may be appropriate.

These scenarios are likely to relate to soil health, nature recovery, and regenerative agriculture.

The CCRI will also explore how payments should be structured and how to incentivise land managers to participate in these agreements.  In addition, the CCRI will ask farmers the extent to which private sources of funding, such as from water companies, could play a role in long-term agreements.

Dr Chivers said: This is an exciting opportunity to explore whether long-term agreements, similar to the conservation covenants often used in other countries such as the US, may offer a solution for ensuring that landscape recovery is achieved.

“Short-term measures to recover natural resources such as soils are often less effective, particularly where agreements end and farmers no longer adopt them.

“This makes it important that we work with land managers and other stakeholders to find out what may trigger them to commit to measures in the long term.”

The CCRI are currently recruiting a full-time research assistant to help with the delivery of this project. Please see the job description here.

Top image: credit Veronica White