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Jeremy's Blog 16th April 2021: Future Land Use

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 15th April 2021.

We pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, a firm advocate of the countryside, farming, the environment and rural communities, nationally and in the management of the Royal Farms, who died on 9th April. His life spanned a century of service, active until long into his 90s and characterised by determination, inquisitiveness and an interest in innovation, engineering and technology. The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme opened the countryside to many, helping their understanding, while patronage from local shows to national organisations all furthered that end, sustaining and enhancing our rural life.

The CAAV has this week published Future Rural Land Uses in the United Kingdom to promote discussion with and beyond the CAAV of the pressures and opportunities for clients, the rural economy and so also our future landscapes and environment. This offers another way to understand and review the business and land occupation changes on which members will advise and act for clients over this decade.

What might we be farming with the CAP behind us? Where will agriculture find production with value? Who will use the new technologies to do what? What changes will be driven by climate change and the measures to mitigate it? Might land come out of agriculture and to what uses? Such questions will be answered, one way or another, by individuals on the ground.

This is not just about Brexit, making our own policies outside the EU. Many other accumulating forces make this a critical time for such a review. We have a growing population, face changing world markets and public tastes and see a technological revolution. The 2020s will ask much of rural land management for climate change mitigation and adaptation; the potential scale of that change has yet to be appreciated. When we look back in a decade’s time, we might see how much the kaleidoscope has been jolted.

One way to consider these issues is through the prism of how rural land uses might change as farmers and others with their personal objectives, working between location and soils on the one hand and economics and policies on the other, make their own choices, positive or passive. Those local choices will shape their businesses, the future rural economy and the British landscapes of the future.

This is not new; we have re-made our landscapes for thousands of years. That history illuminates not only a wider range of possible outcomes than those of the last half century, but also possible constraints - Britain has generally been less forested than people think.

The CAAV Future Skills programme is supporting members as trusted advisers to clients facing decisions over business approach and structure, enterprise choices and investment, land occupation and generational change, environmental resources and the value they can bring and, more generally, how best to identify and achieve their objectives. This calls for clear analysis supporting good advice enabling sound decisions and their practical implementation. This paper, which can be downloaded from the Free Publications section of the website, is offered to help take that full view, so that we manage change rather than be managed by it.

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