At the core of the activities in the Welland is our own Water Friendly Farming project in the headwater tributaries of the Eye Brook and Stonton Brook and our other research at and around Loddington. Water Friendly Farming builds on our previous work in the Eye Brook which combined our scientific knowledge of the agricultural environment with local knowledge in the catchment community to explore a whole range of issues associated with the management and use of natural resources. An account of the Eye Brook work was recently published as a journal paper which can be downloaded HERE. For those who don't have the time or inclination to delve into an academic paper, here are some under-pinning principles which can be adopted or adapted to local circumstances in other areas:
- Combining scientific research with local knowledge strengthens both knowledge communities to the benefit of all through an improved shared understanding of landscape scale issues and catchment processes.
- Identifying cultural as well as economic motivators for individuals and businesses is an important element of community engagement, both within and beyond the farming community, strengthening 'buy-in' from participants. Acknowledging and accepting differences in values and objectives within rural communities is essential to the development and implementation of management on the ground.
- Learning about land use history strengthens local identify and 'ownership' of agri-environmental problems and opportunities
- Recognition and acceptance of the interelationship between multiple objectives (e.g. food production, water quality improvement, climate change mitigation, flood management etc) should be central to catchment management policy and practice
- Identification and promotion of private benefits must be combined with consistent government support for activities that deliver public benefits