We were commissioned by the Community Land Trust Network (CLTN) to undertake some research about the identity of and resources available to land trusts engaging in sustainable agriculture and / or nature restoration in England. This idea emerged from a trend our organisations had noticed through our respective work, namely the growth of two growing, but disconnected, movements:

  • One putting farmland and green space into community ownership to decommodify the land, steward it for wider community benefit and support sustainable approaches such as agroforestry, community supported agriculture and rewilding 
  • Another putting land into community ownership in order to build more affordable homes, or reclaim empty homes; to provide new affordable workspace and revitalise high streets; install new renewable energy generators and invest the returns in the local community.

Their lack of connection and collaboration seemed like a missed opportunity to work together on shared issues, particularly the difficulties associated with accessing land for community use.

Our research explored the state of resources available for CLTs working, or seeking to work, on ecologically friendly agriculture and nature restoration - identifying existing resources, gaps and offering recommendations for further improvement, as well as reviewing the current sense or lack of land trust ‘identity’ in England.

Some of the main findings of the research included:

  • There is a lack of a shared sense of identity as CLTs amongst other forms of land trust/projects even when they have characteristics which mean they fit the legal definition of a CLT
  • There is a need to consolidate and disseminate resources that directly address ecologically friendly agriculture and nature restoration CLTs as there are currently gaps in provision
  • Increased visibility and embracing of the core CLT principles and practices by more organisations could help to create a powerful public narrative about how land and assets should be stewarded - for the benefit of the widest possible community, and not for individual profit

These findings and more can be seen in the final research report produced, and an associated Resource Library, which may be of use to CLTs working, or seeking to work, on ecologically friendly agriculture and nature restoration. The Chief Executive of the CLTN, Tom Chance, has also written this blog, sharing his reflections on the research.

Shared Assets and CLTN are now considering future opportunities to pick up on some of the report’s main findings and recommendations, and explore these further, to benefit these emerging movements.

(image credit: Youlgrave CLT - Image Credit CLT Network)

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