Shaping land policy and management

Exeter research has informed policies addressing sustainable agriculture, economic development and environmental protection. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Research by the (CRPR) has informed policies addressing sustainable agriculture, economic development and environmental protection and how developing policy and management techniques could produce more food whilst improving environmental land management.

Professor Michael Winter OBE, Dr Matt Lobley and Dr Robert Fish have been working in collaboration with environmental scientists, on a series of research council and government funded projects which develop and apply the ecosystems approach to address important aspects of environmental policy and natural resource management.

CRPR’s research contributed to the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) development of national guidelines to embed the ecosystems services approach into their policies. They were active contributors to the UK’s National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) and follow on first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of its benefits to society and economic prosperity. The finding of the NEA has directly influenced government policy for the natural environment. CRPR is currently following through on this work by conducting the largest ever public dialogue on policy priorities for the environment.


The Commission for Rural Communities also benefitted from CRPR’s input; our researchers contributed to their major review of the English uplands policy – resulting in the launch of new policy initiatives and related funding.

By highlighting the pivotal role that the farming community play in the environmental protection of the English uplands, the CRPR prompted a £6million a year funding package for hill farmers’ environmental stewardship training schemes.

An Economic and Social Research Council Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) research study which took place between 2006 and 2011, analysed why agri-environment schemes to encourage farmers to use pro-environmental management practices to increase wildlife were failing.

The research discovered that the low success rate of these policies was, in part, due to farmers’ poor understanding of the aims and science behind the schemes. The research by Professor Winter and Dr Lobley showed policymakers that improving farmers’ knowledge and expertise, through training is a more effective way of engendering a wildlife friendly approach to land management.