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'Bring people together for social benefits'

People should be brought to the centre stage to deliver more environmental and social benefits, says an EU-funded project.

Local communities and landowners worked together in the WILD project to understand and get involved in the management of local watercourses

One of the key recommendations coming out of a recently completed EU funded project is a new approach that would bring the social dimension – people – to the centre stage to deliver more environmental and social benefits.

The project findings also recommend promoting cooperative ways of working.

These included a greater commitment to help actors on the ground develop a collective, multi-actor, approach, that builds on the engagement and commitment of farmers and foresters.

In addition, a more flexible and joined up use of the policy mix, better adapted to local needs is required, which needs a local translation of national and EU rules so that there is a focus on results rather than compliance.

The project, PEGAGUS – an acronym for ‘Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management: Unlocking the Synergies’ – investigated the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry.

It undertook 34 case studies, each of which used a different approach to unlock the connections between economic and environmental benefits for society.

One of the key case studies involved the WILD project (Water with Integrated Local Delivery), for which the CCRI was part of a partnership that brought about environmental improvements to the rivers and other watercourses of the Cotswold Water Park.

This brought  local communities and landowners together in understanding and getting involved in the management of local watercourses.

With input from the farmers, landowners and the local community, it also devised and delivered a plan of enhancements over a three-year period aimed at improving water quality and the infrastructure surrounding the management of water flows.

Chris Short, of the University of Gloucestershire, worked on the WILD project and case study,.

He said: “The research revealed what can be done in terms of people from the local level to national organisations, working together to deliver the quality environment that society needs.

"It showed that there is a role for everyone and that words can translate into actions that make a real difference. This is an excellent example of local integrated delivery as referred to in the Government’s 25 Year Environment plan.”

The PEGASUS project also developed a Toolkit for Practitioners, which provides guidance and useful tips to stakeholders wishing to be involved in a collective action to enhance the provision of environmental and social benefits from agriculture and/or forestry.

For more details, click here.

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