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Reconciling pastoral agriculture and nature conservation: developing a co-management approach in the English uplands

Christopher J Short1* and Janet Dwyer2

Author Affiliations

1 Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls Campus, Gloucester, GL2 9HW, United Kingdom

2 Professor of Rural Policy, Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls Campus, Gloucester, GL2 9HW, United Kingdom

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Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2012, 2:13  doi:10.1186/2041-7136-2-13

Published: 28 September 2012

Abstract

The article assesses the influence of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on the pastoral farming systems in a National Park within the south west of England and more recent attempts to use innovative and participatory techniques to reconcile pastoral farming systems with wildlife management. The paper confirms evidence that the economic sustainability of farm businesses in the UK involved in pastoral farming is reducing, and that wildlife-orientated schemes are changing traditional farming systems in a way that might not be in the long-term interest of wildlife. The data gathered raise questions about the cost-effectiveness of the current environmental approaches, which are government-run with centrally determined prescriptions relating to the natural resource and wildlife. Drawing on the concept of co-management, an alternative approach is identified and explored with both farmers and nature conservation regulators. This approach places more emphasis upon adjusting the traditional farming system of this marginal type of farming to align with the sustainable management of a fragile ecosystem.

Keywords:
Co-management; Upland; Moorland; Exmoor; Common agricultural policy; Social-ecological systems; Nature conservation; Biodiversity