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We have been writing. Recently that seems to have been our main activity. Writing a chapter on ‘landscape and climate change’ for a Routledge book on landscape. Here we had to resolve three challenges: i) the breadth of the field of landscape; ii) the size of the field of climate change; and iii) the scope of the policy context. However, as we argue in the chapter:

Fortunately these challenges are offset by some significant gains when thinking about landscape in relation to climate change. Landscape grounds the study of climate change, lending a materiality to the arcane and frequently incomprehensible science of models and predictions. It also has the potential to connect disciplines by operating as the site at which multi-, trans- and inter-disciplinary conversations might be had. Such conversations draw in policy makers and landscape management professionals because landscape is the object of government policy and agency work in many countries where landscapes are valued for their productivity, fragility, beauty or habitat. Finally, landscapes feature in the collective imaginaries of people and communities across the planet, for whom senses of place and purpose are located in the familiar surroundings of their everyday lives. It is this concept of landscape that has only recently started to insinuate itself into the study of climate change, largely in response to a recognition that more needs to be done to understand climate change as a relational concept, bound up with sense of place, belonging and identity (Brace and Geoghegan 2011; Adger et al. 2009). It is in these familiar landscapes that climate change has been and will continue to be experienced, whether through the increased erosive power of a storm-driven sea, the loss of productive land to desert, or the appearance of wind-turbines and solar fields.  (Leyshon and Geoghegan, forthcoming)

Familiar landscapes and climate change formed the basis of another paper we have been working on, this time about farmers and nature conservationists making sense of climate change in their daily lives. One interesting extract from this paper relates to the use of Wellington Boots as a sign that the Great British Summer is here:

Similarly, the local Natural England Senior Reserves Manager combines his expert, professional knowledge of the area with an embodied, visceral understanding that emerges from something as simple as when in the summer he can stop wearing his wellies. He says: “I always reckon now that I don’t take my wellingtons off until July because although we get the dry May and June the heaths are still wet aren’t they? They are still wet. So you’re still in wellies until July and it’s peeing with rain and you’re still in wellies until August. But I always say to people, I take my wellies off in July but this year I was wrong. We didn’t, we had to wear wellies through July and into August.” (Geoghegan and Leyshon, forthcoming)

Wellies are not the only objects we have been writing about either, we also have begun to think about how climate change is grounded through the contentious issue of cattlegrids. Yes, you read it right. How do cattlegrids act as anticipatory objects, presencing climate change. Here is a short extract:

The research presented in this paper shows that climate change as an environmental discourse is materialised at the smallest of scales – in the ways farmers talk about managing the land, in the work that agencies such as Natural England undertakes, in the subtle manoeuvring and sometimes long-drawn out negotiations that take place around something as simple as a cattle grid on a local road and in the sense of responsibility and custodianship expressed by people of all kinds in relation to the landscape.  These conversations do not turn on arguments about cost-benefit analysis, equal per capita entitlements, equalising marginal costs, the precautionary principle or other arcane notions. Instead they are formed around local structures of feeling, questions of identity and belonging, and ideas about personal responsibility and entitlement.  But they are no less critical for our understanding of personal and social responses to climate change.  Indeed, arguably they are more critical, for these interactions are what everyday life is made of. (Leyshon and Geoghegan, forthcoming)

I look forward to reporting back in due course with some publication dates. Please do drop us a line if you’d like to hear more. Our next writing project will hopefully be about gardens. Returning to the chap mentioned on this blog at the very beginning – with his tomato plants still producing fruit in November.

 

Lately, we’ve been thinking about the Natural Environment White Paper and what it has to say about landscape-scale partnership working. The White Paper proposes that

“effective action to benefit nature, people and the economy locally happens when the right people come together in partnership” (The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature 2011:19).

This has resulted in the creation of Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) to offer a strategic vision at a regional/county level for how nature will be valued and managed. Whilst LNPs have been welcomed by nature conservationists, it is widely accepted that the vision outlined in the White Paper will need to be operationalized in individual landscapes, at a scale smaller than that of the region/county, with partnerships and cooperation on an even more local level. The twelve pilot Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) proposed in the White Paper are unlikely to achieve a complete picture of the numerous informal partnerships in operation around the country, their limited number restricting the potential for learning best practice from pre-existing success stories. The emphasis on partnership working has meant that the nature conservation sector is increasingly concerned, even where LNP and NIA status is unavailable/unrealistic, about how best to communicate their plans to communities and develop effective ways of working in partnership at the landscape-scale.

We’ve been advisory members of a nature conservation partnership since July 2010 called Linking the Lizard (comprising the National Trust, Natural England, Cornwall AONB, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, NFU and Cornwall Council). The meetings have highlighted the importance of: i) maintaining networks between the social sciences and the nature conservation sector; and ii) co-creation of knowledge to extend and enhance the opportunities for partnership working and local community participation at the landscape-scale. We’ve been involved in a number of Linking the Lizard initiatives, notably a series of community engagement exercises focused on the future of a National Trust farm.

As we move forward with the CLIF project we intend to put this experience to good use, in order to offer the UK Nature Conservation sector a toolkit for working in partnership with local communities.

Wow – 2011 is moving at a fast rate of knots. So far CLIF researchers have submitted 3 grant proposals for future funds, 1 proposal for internal selection and managed to develop our plans for future work quite significantly. This is no mean feat in a mere 1.5 months of 2011. With Kate busy as head of human geography research at the moment, I am taking time to transcribe the remaining interviews we conducted with farmers in 2010. Boy, I had a lot of fun – getting lost, spectacular coastal views, cups of tea, (don’t forget) the cake and a great time listening to how farmers on the Lizard imagine their farms to change as a result of climate change. It has been one of the best things I’ve done.

Sitting around the various tables with farmers (and often their wives), I learnt that climate and the ways it might change are experienced in a variety of ways: climate is weather; weather updates are listened to all the time; the climate can change from one farm to the next; some are farming for 5 seasons; there is a monsoon season in July/August; climate change? what climate change?; snow up to the eaves; burning the heath is vital… the list goes on.

And so does the transcription. I had a break yesterday in the form of a meeting with the National Trust in Birmingham. It was internal and I cannot disclose Trust secrets but it was exciting and confirmed my longheld suspicion that the work the National Trust does IS for the benefit of people today and in the future, and that the National Trust – like other nature conservation professionals I have encountered – do it for the love of it. Enthusiasm at the National Trust is in abundance!

I’ll leave the final (warm and fuzzy) word to this nature conservation advisor:

I suspect that we all roughly share somewhere in the back of our heads the same ideas and visions but we’re going to get there in slightly different ways aren’t we. … They all love the environment [of the Lizard] … because we have stories, they have, you know, everybody has stories and we think we’re moving in this direction if climate change is one of the things influencing that but it’s trying to engage with that in a way that we can understand each other’s positions as to how we move from here to there. And you mentioned about tomatoes and people’s gardens, well, that’s exactly, we’re talking about the same thing because it is food and it is local food and it comes from the local landscape.

2011 is going to be an exciting year for researchers on the CLIF project. We have been invited to take part in a Linking the Lizard initiative in order to help the National Trust engage the local community about the future of one of their farms. So here is a bit more detail:

 

 

 

  • Linking the Lizard are a group of local representatives from the National Trust, Natural England, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Cornwall AONB Partnership and National Farmers’ Union interested in working in partnership in order to develop a sustainable approach to managing the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.


Working in Partnership
The best prospect for maintaining these places and our resources like clean water on which we all depend is for working at the larger scale rather than landowners and farmers simply managing small sites in isolation from each other.

The National Trust and its partner organisations, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Cornwall AONB and the National Farmers Union have got together to see how they can work more closely together, not only to benefit the health of the land that they look after, but to make a closer connection between the work that they do and the communities, businesses and visitors of the Lizard Peninsula.

Some of the benefits we think might be:

Caring for Wildlife

  • Making the Lizard a better place for wildlife, including all the rare plants, birds, insects and mammals that live here by joining up special places.
  • Caring for the landscape, the air, soil and water.
  • Working with farmers to keep the special habitats in good condition.
  • Linking management of the land with the sea

A landscape to inspire, places to explore, adventures to be had

  • Involving local people in the future of their area through finding out more about what people want from the land.
  • Working together with businesses to promote the Lizard and the opportunities for varied use by the community and visitors to the outdoors.
  • Better footpaths, cycle and horse riding routes around the peninsula
  • Exploring new ways for people to experience the outdoors such as coasteering, kayaking etc.
  • A better sense of the rich history of the area

Adaptation for a changing climate and a low carbon future

  • Making more space for wildlife in bigger, joined up areas, so that species can adapt and move to change.
  • Storing carbon in soils and vegetation to help mitigate against further climate change.
  • Finding ways to encourage community led responses to a low carbon future
  • Building resilience in the farming system and in the population to adapt to a low carbon future.
  • The National Trust own a farm on the Lizard that has recently come up for tenancy and the Trust have identified this as a unique opportunity to get the local community involved in deciding its future

The National Trust is opening a dialogue with the local community, visitors and anyone with a love of and an interest in Britain’s most southerly point to see how we can work together on the future of Tregullas Farm at the Lizard.

Throughout 2011 we will be holding a series of events, meetings and discussions to hear what the local community and others think.

We want to hear what is special about this land, what you would like to see grown here, whether you want to get involved in some way, and whether the Lizard community needs extra space, land or buildings to help it thrive. This might mean more space for wildlife or recreation, allotments or a community farm, or even a community renewable energy scheme.

If we can match our aims and objectives with your vision, there is a great opportunity here. We really want to listen to your ideas so that you can help us come to a decision about the farm. In the meantime we will be letting the farmland and the farmhouse on short-term agreements until we know what will be possible here.

Opportunities like this don’t happen often – maybe just once in a generation – so this is your chance to get involved and shape the future of the farm.

  • The farm is Tregullas Farm at Most Southerly Point on the Lizard Peninsula.

The National Trust’s tenant at Tregullas Farm has decided to leave after 15 years looking after the land and the landscape so we need to find a new tenant (or tenants) for the 250 acres of farm and cliff land in this amazing place. There is a lot that is special about Tregullas Farm; good fertile soil, fantastic views, a village on the doorstep, lots of footpaths, rare plants and Cornwall’s first breeding choughs for 50 years! At the farm, new multi-purpose buildings were put up 15 years ago and the traditional farm buildings re-roofed with Cornish slate.  It’s been run as principally a beef and arable farm over the past 15 years and prior to that was a mixed dairy and vegetable (potatoes and cauliflower) farm.

To date our involvement has been surveying and reviewing the geographical literature on partnership working and participatory methodologies in order to help the Linking the Lizard team shape a year long programme of community consultation about the future of the farm, prior to the advertisement of the tenancy in March 2012.

Our intention is to document this process of partnership working in order to investigate how our previous work on the value of familiar landscapes to understanding/responding to environmental changes and land management by the National Trust and Natural England plays out on the ground.

The website for this project can be found here.

To date we have helped the team plan four events as part of the community consultation process. The first event was held just before Christmas and invited local residents to meet the Linking the Lizard team and hear a little bit more about the plans for 2011 (Kate will post about this event in due course, she’s currently in Bulgaria at a conference – I bet it is pretty chilly over there at this time of year).

It is a pleasure to be involved in this project and we look forward to reporting back as it progresses.

We have commenced a second phase of fieldwork. Drawing on our ideas surrounding landscape, temporality and climate, we are working with local representatives of some national conservation organisations  in order to understand how environmetnal knowledges play out on the ground. We hope to discover how important a sense of and attachment to place is to public participation. This is part of the project I mentioned a couple of months ago that I am still unable to discuss in full – BUT – I will be launching on the site in a few weeks. Yeehah! It will, we hope, enable us to extend recent theorisations of landscape made by geographers into the field of environmental politics and community engagement.

This isn’t my first foray into academic blogging. From Climate to Landscape has a sister blog in the shape of The Culture of Enthusiasm. Here interests in enthusiasm and amateur/expert ways of knowing are blended to create a passionate geography of doing things for the love of them. I will also take this as an opportunity to raise the question of the value of blogs like these. They not only help us to communicate our findings to research participants, but also share our work with the blog-o-sphere. Find us on twitter: climate2land.

Hello! If you’re looking for a paper that discusses ‘Human Geographies of Climate Change‘, with a specific focus on ‘landscape, temporality and lay knowledges‘, then you’ve come to the right place. Our paper on this topic was recently made available online by the good people at Progress in Human Geography. The abstract:

 

In this paper we bring together work on landscape, temporality and lay knowledges to propose new ways of understanding climate change. A focus on the familiar landscapes of everyday life offers an opportunity to examine how climate change could be researched as a relational phenomenon, understood on a local level, with distinctive spatialities and temporalities. Climate change can be observed in relation to landscape but also felt, sensed, apprehended emotionally as part of the fabric of everyday life in which acceptance, denial, resignation and action co-exist as personal and social responses to the local manifestations of a global problem.

 

Please follow this link: http://phg.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/08/19/0309132510376259.abstract

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