19 February 2024

Empowering rural communities on climate action

CCRI-led research

The NICRE team at the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) has been engaging with local communities in Gloucestershire and Warwickshire to collectively develop locally appropriate climate action solutions, writes Aimee Morse, Research Assistant. As part of a research project, we have delivered two Climathon events in partnership with Cotswold District Council, Farm491 (based at the Royal Agricultural University), and NICRE founding business partner Strutt and Parker and their clients.  

Farm of the Future and Cotswold Climathons

The Farm of the Future Climathon was held earlier this month on Tramway Farm and asked: What might a climate resilient farm of the future look like? After a farm walk (pictured right) run by Strutt and Parker colleagues, participants reconvened in Blackwell Village Hall to discuss and develop relevant solutions for Tramway Farm, a predominantly arable farm of 480 acres with some pasture and woodland, which can be used as a case study example for farms of a similar type.

In the afternoon, six teams put forward their solutions and received feedback from a panel comprising representatives from the family at Tramway Farm, Strutt and Parker and the Royal Agricultural Society of England. The solution development process was positive and creative, with the final ideas incorporating the family’s strategies and priorities for their farm, and innovative suggestions for a climate resilient farm. Solutions included ideas for business and community engagement, and farming systems designed to support both nature and the farm business.  

This event followed the Cotswold Climathon in September which asked: How can food, farming and land use help achieve net zero? You can read more about it on our research page and watch a video produced by Cotswold District Council, in which co-investigator Damian Maye, describes the Climathon process. 

Outcomes and next steps

The Rural Climathon programme of work aims to inspire other local councils, stakeholders and residents in rural areas to engage in this participatory approach to climate action. The outcomes, if matched with local government support, can be empowering for rural communities and a means for them to vision their path to net zero. We were pleased to have the opportunity to engage with members of the Rural Services Network by presenting the Rural Climathon methodology to its net zero seminar in January. 

Our next event will be held in the Forest of Dean, on 25 and 26 April. We have partnered with Forest of Dean District Council to explore locally relevant solutions for community energy. More details to follow.