How can local people protect, and even improve, their natural assets with less government money? Finding out how communities are overcoming these barriers is at the heart of our new Policy and Research programme.

How can communities protect and even improve their natural assets with less government money? It sounds unreasonable, yet it is what they are being asked to do in a political climate defined by localism and austerity. Moreover, a number of innovative social entrepreneurs and community groups around the country are rising to the challenge. Finding out how they are overcoming barriers, and what changes might help more to do the same, is at the heart of our new Policy and Research programme.

We believe different social enterprises that manage land have shared policy interests. Projects like community food growing, community renewable energy and community woodlands all face issues related to their requirement for, and use of, land. Some of these issues may be purely local, but we believe that there are a number of shared, more strategic issues that may need larger-scale change. We want to explore the shared interests of land-based social enterprises  and understand how they can join to promote these interests together. We are now able to explore these common issues and some potential solutions thanks to a generous grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

The plan is simple: collect and employ the shared wisdom of the many brilliant people who work in and around the flourishing land-based social enterprise sector. Find them, explore their ambitions, issues and challenges. Get them together and explore how we can work together to to achieve their shared interests. We’re going to get in touch with people who we think have interesting information, experiences or perspectives.

It doesn’t take a research program to know that many people are incredibly busy and we don’t want to add to this stress by taking up lots of time. However we hope that people can be generous, and that they can see this work will help everyone involved in community land management to progress.

We also want people to get in touch with us. We’d love to hear about interesting research or innovative projects. We’ll be blogging the work as we go along so if you agree, disagree or are just interested in something we’ve discussed, get in touch. You can reach us by email, tweeting @shared_assets, on facebook or below in the comments.

We’re interested in problems as well as solutions – maybe we can even help you solve some of yours, or put you in touch with someone who has dealt with something similar. We want to facilitate discussions that will help resolve issues and bring people together.

In the coming weeks we will publish a series of blogs on themes emerging from our initial desk research. Some will focus on the practical issues that we know land based social enterprises are dealing with. Others will explore ideas about land and land management that underpin this policy research. In June we will host a free conference to discuss some of these ideas, and to look for your input to help us develop this work. The ultimate aim is to identify key learning and draw out policy changes that could help social enterprises in managing land.

Other blogs in this series:

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We’re always keen to hear from people with interesting projects or doing similar work. Get in touch for a conversation about how we might collaborate.

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