The future of the rural economy and nature recovery in the South West

The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and The Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR) Think Tank

An Environment and Sustainability Institute research event
Date6 July 2021
Time12:30 to 15:30

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Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK government has taken steps to set its own agricultural policy via the proposed Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs), which will be managed by DEFRA. The scheme aims to focus entirely on environmental benefits, providing financial rewards and incentives to landowners for their efforts to deliver: • clean and plentiful water • clean air • thriving plants and wildlife • protection from environmental hazards • reduction of and adaptation to climate change • beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment

Three new schemes: Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery, and Landscape Recovery will be piloted and implemented over the coming years, with the aim that the ELM schemes will be fully operational by 2025.

Our think tank on the future of the rural economy and nature recovery in the South West will bring together research teams from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR), Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), Institute of Cornish Studies (ICS), The South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP), the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC) and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) with regional partners who are interested in better understanding the changing rural economy and environment of our region in the context of the new legislative framework for land management.

The Think Tank will explore changes to agricultural subsidies and the implications for environmental growth; the experiences of farmers and the future of the farm economy; food, its production, procurement and consumption; wider links to regional policy and the way in which the landscape impacts on other aspects of place and economy (such as tourism and human health); and explore what sustainable development might look like in rural regions.


The Think Tank will aim to:
• Highlight areas of common research interest between University of Exeter researchers and regional partners around the topic of changing systems of land management and the rural economy.
• Discuss possible research ideas for the group or subgroups to develop, with a view to making funding applications in future.
• Explore opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate research projects.
• Generate momentum around the opportunity to track changes in the landscape around us, working with partners for the long term, to experience change first-hand.


12.30 – 12.40
Introduction to the event
(Jane Wills, Director of ESI & Matt Lobley, Director of CRPR)

12.40 – 13.40
ELMs – setting the scene (Chaired by Jane Wills)
Introduction to the work of the Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR), covering:
• The changing domestic agricultural policy environment (Matt Lobley)
• ELMs in the context of landscape recovery – the potential for collaborative approaches (Rebecca Wheeler)

13.40 - 13.50 Break

13.50 – 14.50 Nature recovery plans (Chaired by Harry West)
• Rewilding Coombeshead Farm – a landowner’s perspective from Derek Gow
• Nature recovery in Cornwall: The Plan from Lord Robin Teverson
• The work of the National Trust from Matt Heard (National Specialist  - Land Use & Ecosystem Services)

14.50 – 15.15 Open discussion on next steps (Chaired by Matt Lobley)
• What do we need to know?
• What are the emerging research questions?
• What research is already being done?
• How could we generate new data to answer the important questions?
• Where could we get funding to make this happen?
• What is the potential role of engaging students in longitudinal research into landscape, biodiversity, farming and community change?
• Do we have the knowledge/skills to cover everything we need to know?

15.15 – 15.30 Round up session and close.

ProviderEnvironment and Sustainability Institute
OrganizerESI and CRPR

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