Countryside and Community Research Institute
University of Gloucestershire
Telephone: +44 (0) 1242 714122
A range of interesting research programmes are underway at the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) at the University of Gloucestershire, utilising European partnership funding. These cover subjects ranging from protection of soils against degradation, to assessments of the benefits of short food chains in global areas as well as evaluation of programmes such as the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, and the Local Food programme. There appears to be a strong link with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, which has a long history of research in sustainable agriculture.
European Partnership Research Programmes at Countryside and Community Research Institute
- PEGAGUS ‘Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management: Unlocking the Synergies’. - Since April 2015, CCRI researchers have been working as one of 14 pan-European partners on a project which is investigating the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry, aiming to unlock the synergies between economic and environmental benefits for society. The aim of the case studies involved, is to examine the issues faced in ensuring effective provision of public goods and ecosystem services from farming and forest activities and find solutions to enable the long term economic social and environmental sustainability of the EU’s farmed and forest areas.
- Support of Learning and Innovation Networks for Sustainable Agriculture (SOLINSA) - this three year programme (2011-2013) was a collaboration between partners in eleven European countries. The overall objective of the SOLINSA project was to identify effective and efficient approaches for the support of innovation for sustainable agriculture and rural development. Farmers are developing innovations in many ways, for example: on-farm processing or energy production; participation in collective initiatives such as co-operatives; building new market arrangements to provide differentiated products to concerned consumers; implementing management practices to protect the environment and natural resources or growing non-food or novel crops. Often these innovations develop within networks, where the members can share knowledge, learn together and support each other. These networks emerge because of the absence of information from more formal sources to support innovation development. A key aim of this project was to understand how such networks develop and operate in practice. Specifically it aimed to identify barriers to their development and explore how policy instruments, financial arrangements, research, education and advisory services might effectively support learning in networks in cost-efficient and effective ways. The project explored a variety of network case studies in a range of sustainable agriculture contexts in each of the partner countries. The network being studied the UK was Permaculture Association's LAND network of 88 holdings which demonstrate permaculture in action.
- Sustainable farm management aimed at reducing threats to soils under climate change (SmartSOIL) - the overarching aim of SmartSOIL is to contribute to reversing the current degradation trend of European agricultural soils by improving soil carbon management in soils of arable and mixed farming systems covering intensive to low-input and organic farming systems. This entails two overall aims: the application of a holistic approach to identify farming systems and agronomic practices that result in an optimised balance between crop productivity, restoration and maintenance of vital soil functions (fertility, biodiversity, water, nutrients cycling and other soil ecosystem services) and soil carbon sequestration and storage; development and delivery of the SmartSOIL decision support tool and guidelines to support novel approaches, techniques, and technologies adapted to different European soils and categories of beneficiaries (farmers, farm advisory and extension services, and policy makers).
- SUPERB Food (2012-2015) – a European partnership between seven urban case study regions across Europe. It is investigating how short food chains make a contribution to local food needs, and what this means in terms of food waste, land and water use, as well as soil nutrient levels in the food production areas adjacent to cities.