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Research on Rural Resource Management and the Rural Economy: Addressing the Local and Regional Dimension Royal Society of Edinburgh 16 May 2007 Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Promoting interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of the social , economic, environmental and technological challenges that the countryside faces today What’s new about RELU? It’s where the social and natural sciences speak the same language RELU brings together 65 projects, 360 researchers and over 40 disciplines The Economic and Social Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Natural Environment Research Council plus Defra and SEERAD have collaborated to provide a £25 million budget, 2004-2010 RELU is building interdisciplinary research capacity for the future Why do we need RELU? This is a time of radical change for rural areas. Key public challenges include: Restoring trust in food chains Tackling animal disease in a socially acceptable manner Sustaining agriculture in a liberalised economy Promoting robust rural economies Mitigating threats from climate change and invasive species Reducing stress on water catchments What is the countryside for? There are new and emerging demands on land The public function of agriculture and land management is changing Urban pressures on the countryside are growing Climate change cannot be ignored Strategic Land Use – the Challenges There seems a need to rethink our approach to land use planning and policy. National land use faces the following challenges: adjusting to, and where possible mitigating, climate change and its complex consequences and threats (drought, flooding, invasive species/diseases) accommodating population growth and new housing facilitating strong and nationally balanced economic growth promotion of patterns of sustainable living for households, communities and regions protecting critical natural resources and ecological capacities. To meet these challenges requires that land use planning is both flexible, to allow people and businesses to adjust to perhaps major and short-term environmental change, and strategic, to ensure that the long-term public good Is pursued. Strategic Land Use – the Opportunities Significant opportunities present themselves in responding to these challenges. a change in the zeitgeist relating to global environmental change, including a widespread willingness to change outlooks and personal behaviour, and support for strategic action positive indications of environmental improvement in certain sectors e.g. biodiversity CAP reform which is releasing (human, financial and land) resources from intensive agriculture, and making them available for other uses the potential (the as yet to be realised promise) of Defra and SEERAD to combine different instruments and means (designated areas, agri- environment payments, catchment management, national park plans, biodiversity action plans, regional rural delivery framework, the Scottish Rural Development Plan, Natural England, Environment Agency), including their sponsorship of the land management sector, for strategic environmental planning. Strategic Land Use – Critical Needs Land use policy within Defra seems to suffer from the inverse problem of other fields where strategies are drawn up but too often resources fail to flow. Here there are many resources but an absence of a coherent national strategy. Critical needs include: a long term strategic vision for land use (particularly for undeveloped land) developing environmental planning as a counterpart to the strong tradition of spatial planning means to orchestrate the management of rural land use to achieve public goods (particularly informed by research on ecosystem services) good strategic research How does RELU research relate to policy? Partnership Working/Governance Local Economy/Employment Biodiversity Environmentally Friendly Farming Healthy Food/Public Protection Water Quality/ Pollution Local Food Supply Chains Landscape Conservation Countryside Access/ Disadvantage Soil Conservations/ Carbon Sequestration Greenhouse Gas Emissions Flood Management Farm Diversification Removable Energy Generation/Recycling Multi-Functional Forestry Animal Welfare 0 5 10 15 20 25 No. of Projects Science isn’t just for scientists What kind of science do we need today? Joined-up science Socially accountable science How does RELU fulfil this need? It cuts across disciplinary boundaries to tackle challenges It involves stakeholders at every stage What do we want to achieve today? To bring RELU research to you – the rural policy, planning and research staff in local and regional government and public agencies and practitioners in the private and voluntary sectors To explore the implications of the research for your work at local and regional level To invite you to take part in the RELU Visiting Fellowship scheme Why sign up to be a Visiting Fellow? It’s a unique opportunity to visit a RELU research team or cluster of teams You will find out more about the implications of the research for your work You will have the opportunity to influence the research and make it more relevant to you and your colleagues You may want to arrange a return match – the RELU Work Shadowing Scheme enables researchers to visit the contexts where their research will be used Both schemes aim to produce dissemination activities and materials tailored to your specific needs
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