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Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management - Unlocking the Synergies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PEGASUS (Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management - Unlocking the Synergies)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

PEGASUS (“Public Ecosystem Goods and Services: Unlocking the Synergies”) is a Horizon 2020 research project led by IEEP and involving 14 partners in 10 EU countries. The PEGASUS project took place over 3 years, starting in March 2015. The project looked for the best ways to transform approaches to rural land management in order to stimulate long-lasting improvements in the delivery of social, economic and environmental benefits from EU agricultural and forest land. The project provided recommendations on how policy and practice should change to address these issues more successfully, to meet societal expectations. Key characteristics of PEGASUS were its participatory approach to research and multi-disciplinary team.
PEGASUS had six coherent objectives, as follows:
1. To advance the collective understanding of the different concepts of public goods and ecosystem services relevant to agriculture and forestry;
2. To develop and refine methods for assessing the capacity of different types of farming and forestry systems in Europe to sustain and improve Public Goods (PG)/ Ecosystem Services (ESS) provision whilst maintaining primary production;
3. To develop and refine methodologies to map, characterise and quantify PG/ESS provision in the EU, analysing synergies and conflicting demands as well as the societal demand and appreciation of PG/ESS delivery;
4. To test these understandings, approaches and methodologies within agricultural and forestry sectors, engaging in action research within contrasting case studies covering a range of social-ecological systems; and to analyse their capacity to enhance achievement of PG/ESS delivery and the sustainability and resilience of primary production;
5. Thereby to develop robust mechanisms and tools for assessing and strengthening the current and potential contribution of EU agricultural and forestry sectors to the sustained delivery of PG/ESS; to integrate the outputs into a transferable approach, as well as a systematic operational framework for decision-makers; and to use the PEGASUS results to frame realistic and robust recommendations for both policy and practice for 2020 and beyond;
6. To involve stakeholders through participatory research and co-learning at all stages of PEGASUS and to communicate the findings of the project widely to encourage EU-wide uptake of its new operational framework, and support proposals for more effective EU policy beyond 2020 for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework.
During the first months of the project, the team critically reviewed the concepts of public goods and ecosystem services and, based on state of the art thinking, literature reviews and research, decided to use the holistic Social-Ecological-Systems (SES) framework to explore the full complexity of the factors and drivers enabling and limiting the joint delivery of economic, social and environmental outcomes in rural areas.
Following the review of concepts, we started a work stream on mapping the inter-linkages between farming and forestry management practices, different intensities of management and the provision of PG/ESS at EU level. The mapping work included firstly the creation of new agricultural crop and forestry maps at EU level. For agriculture, the work involved the geospatial presentation of the Farm Structure Survey data from 2010 provided by Eurostat for the first time. In addition, a novel approach was used to map the intensity of agricultural management. This was followed by the identification of proxy indicators and associated datasets for selected ESBOs. Lastly, an analysis of the geospatial patterns and trends emerging from the different maps created was carried out.
In parallel, we carried out an assessment of the socio-political, economic and institutional drivers which enable or inhibit the provision of the environmental and social benefits by agriculture and forestry. As a central plank of the project, PEGASUS teams in ten countries carried out 34 ‘broad and shallow’ case studies in different contexts using a participatory action-orientated research approach.
Finally, the team brought all strands of work together to develop a series of tools and recommendations for policy and for practice. We developed a toolkit for practitioners providing guidance and useful tips to stakeholders wishing to involve in a collective initiative to deliver more PG/ESS from agriculture and/or forestry. A mapping add-on to the toolkit was also developed helping local projects to better understand and benchmark the state of the provision of environmental and social benefits in their region. With respect to policy, PEGASUS formulated a series of concrete recommendations highlighting the importance of providing support to and encouraging a variety of actors to cooperate to enable joined up action across a territory or along a supply chain. Increased funding for collaborative/cooperative action as well as for advice, knowledge-sharing and facilitation; designing and implementing a mix of well-targeted, flexible and coherent measures; and making a greater use of private funding are all important recommendations identified by the project as being effective levers of change. It is to be hoped that these considerations will get the attention they deserve in the proposed reform of the CAP post-2020 in particular.
By exploring ways to enhance the contribution of agriculture and forestry in Europe to environment and social outcomes beneficial for society, the PEGASUS project has had a clear and direct relevance to a number of current societal challenges.
The PEGASUS results and recommendations fulfilled the four intended impacts of the project:
i) An increased understanding of the nature of resource management and other processes that influence the delivery of public goods by different types of farming and forestry systems in Europe
ii) The development of robust mechanisms and tools for a) measuring and valorising public goods and b) establishing the contributions of the agricultural and forestry sectors to the sustained delivery of these goods.
iii) The formulation of appropriate policies, incentives, service models and win-win scenarios to reduce conflicts between productivity objectives in primary production and the delivery of ecosystems services and other public goods.
iv) An increased sustainability of primary production by reducing the negative impacts and enhancing the positive contributions of the agriculture and forestry sectors to public goods.
The most direct socio-economic contribution of the project to be highlighted is the toolkit for practitioners developed by the research team. Another important legacy impact of this participatory project is the “community of stakeholders” that was created through the active engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in the research. It is hoped that the knowledge developed will be used and will spread beyond the lifetime of the project.
With the timing of the final project events around the publication of the Communication on the Future of Food and Farming and the interest of a number of national governments (e.g. in the Netherlands, Slovenia, the UK, Austria, Portugal), the lessons and recommendations of the PEGASUS successfully contributed to the policy debate in Europe.