So what is the Framework project?
In the Framework Project farmers will work together to enhance biodiversity across the landscape. They will work with scientists and engineers to increase knowledge and to find solutions to problems of managing biodiversity. And they will also work with citizens, retailers, processors, government policymakers and others to ensure that biodiversity sensitive farming is valued and fair incentives are offered to drive adoption.
Why are projects like this needed?
In Europe, where agriculture accounts for about 40 percent of land use conserving farmland, biodiversity could make a significant contribution to countering the alarming loss of biodiversity that we're experiencing. Neither relying on the adoption of nature friendly approaches like organic farming or efforts to promote our environmental protection through legislation has been effective. While the loss of biodiversity is a local and global tragedy, there's also an urgent need for agriculture to feed a growing global population.
Biodiversity has an important part to play by delivering essential ecosystem services to maintain productive agro ecosystems as sources of affordable and nutritious food.
Framework is an ambitious response to these critical problems. The project will create a biodiversity sensitive farming system that will encourage and enable farmers to conserve biodiversity, promote a rebalancing of agriculture in a way that capitalises on the value of biodiversity, and improve the capacity of farming to deliver food and nutritional security in the face of climate change, disease, pandemics and other pressures on the system. Framework will produce a prototype to improve system level, practise learning from its development and its testing with the ambition that it's rolled out across Europe in the years following the project.
What might a Biodiversity Sensitive Farming System look like?
The blueprint for the framework biodiversity-sensitive farming system includes four elements - advanced farm clusters are the foundation of the system.
The system will see local farmers work together collectively on landscape scale management supported by a cluster facilitator with expertise in agriculture and the environment, and with links to a cluster stakeholder group to inform and promote policy and practise.
Our approach recognises the importance of landscape scale processes in promoting biodiversity and also the power of collective approaches to land management.
It will build on lessons learnt by the success of the farmer clusters in the UK, where a framework project partner the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has been instrumental in growing the network to more than 170 clusters. In support of the advance farmer clusters, the framework system includes a second element, one focussing on technical knowhow in which specialists will provide advice, methods and tools to support biodiversity monitoring and management.
Scientific innovation is the third element, and this will focus on understanding the ecology, sociology and economics of sustainability and agricultural systems with the aim of inspiring guy and guiding the creation of new solutions. And lastly, the citizen observe between information help.
The fourth element is a digital platform for sharing information, data and resources, and for promoting virtual and real activities with the aim of creating a multi-factor action network in support of biodiversity sensitive farming.
How are we delivering this Biodiversity Sensitive Farming System?
Over the next five years, framework will work to translate this blueprints to fully functioning prototype tried and tested and ready to roll out across Europe to begin with. Framework will establish a permanent network of farm clusters throughout elevon dedicated pilot studies from Scotland to Italy and from Spain to Estonia. The project will link these with local cluster stakeholder groups and provide support from cluster facilitators. We will oversee biodiversity management activities, selection, implementation and evaluation. Standardised methods will be used across the pilot studies to monitor outcomes, including biodiversity, ecosystem services and farm operations. The clusters will also operate as living labs, providing real world platforms for landscape ecological Studies.
Framework will also build the Citizen Observatory and Information Hub, through which we will share tools and advice for farmers, trading modules and a range of materials. Support citizen science monitoring campaigns. We will use the Citizen Observatory, an information hub, as a portal to share new sets of citizen generated data and collaborate with other citizen observatories and link with other biodiversity projects and initiatives framework. We use data from the pilot studies to evaluate the effectiveness of advanced farmer clusters and the biodiversity sensitive farming system as a whole. It will assess the economic, social and ecological costs and benefits of the system and identify the drives and limitations of success using this knowledge to promote effective policy level decision making.
How will we make an impact during the project and after it?
Throughout the project, pilot studies will be used to instigate change in their regions by demonstrating best practise and inspiring other farmers, thereby establishing a self-sustaining and growing advanced farmer cluster network across Europe.
To do this framework has brought together a comprehensive set of actors, including a large network of farmers, extension services and University applied research institutes. We have academic excellence in the key disciplines of agro ecology, agricultural sociology and behavioural economics. And these are complemented by considerable expertise in agricultural and environmental science, including trans-disciplinary approaches in applied research and the extensive resource base to go along with this.
In addition, framework includes specialists on communications and media production and training, and in citizen science and participatory research framework. Partners are leaders in their respective fields and all have a strong track record of successful participation and coordination in large multi partner in international projects. Working together to learnedly by example is at the heart of the framework approach through a strategic combination of participatory activities.
Framework offers a short pathway to innovation based impact. Framework will empower co innovation by linking together for the first time the necessary components for a comprehensive, biodiversity sensitive farming system. And in the process, return an array of innovative tools to agricultural stakeholders and provide evidence to support policies in agriculture, food and the environment. Each of these innovations will have an impact on the way farming is done. But it is in combination as the framework biodiversity sensitive farming system that they will have their greatest impact and have an enduring legacy making biodiverse, productive, resilient and sustainable agriculture more achievable across our agricultural landscapes.