Janet Dwyer and Chris Short at PEGASUS meeting in Calabria

Bergamot trees in Calabria
Bergamot trees in Calabria

Professor Janet Dwyer and Chris Short are currently in Reggio in Calabria at the very end of the ‘foot’ of Italy. They are attending the 2nd PEGASUS Annual Steering Group Meeting, which is taking place between 14th to 16th March.

Since April 2015, CCRI researchers have been working as one of 14 pan-European partners on a project (PEGASUS) which is investigating the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry, aiming to unlock the synergies between economic and environmental benefits for society.

A core part of the project has been 34 farming and forestry case studies, which included organic farming in mountain regions, intensive olive production and recreation in urban forest regions. The aim of the case studies was to examine the issues faced in ensuring effective provision of public goods and ecosystem services from farming and forest activities and find solutions to enable the long term economic social and environmental sustainability of the EU’s farmed and forest areas. From this group case studies, 12 were chosen for an in-depth investigation of the relationship policy and the provision of public goods and ecosystem services and the innovations that were being studied.

Chris Short presents the findings of the in-depth study into the WILD case study

On Wednesday (15th March), Chris presented the findings of the in-depth study into the WILD case study. The key aspects recognised here were the role of facilitation and the delivery partners (FWAG, GRCC, CWPT) in linking delivery of the Water Framework Directive with agri-environment initiatives and local development infrastructure, all relevant in terms of how land (urban & agricultural) and water interact. The focus on coordinated action to resolve integrated environmental challenges was noted as being particularly transferable to other situations. While ecological changes are difficult to record, there is evidence of behaviour change as a result of knowledge exchange and advice.

Chris’ presentation can be viewed on the CCRI Slideshare Account.

On Thursday (16th March), the project team went on a field trip to try and understand Bergamot production, which is critical to the economy of this region – the most deprived in West Europe. Bergamot is a citrus fruit grown for its oils that are found in the majority of perfumes and fragrances, as well as being the critical element in Earl Grey tea. Over 80% of the world’s Bergamot is produced in the Calabria region and much of this is sold to multi-nationals like Chanel and Prada. Some of this production is conventional and on a large scale through CAUPA, but there is a growing demand for organic Bergamot, started by the Body Shop. The team visited a producer with 7ha of organically grown Bergamot and producing their own essential oil for use in aromatherapy and other health products. Here we also heard the story of how Earl Grey tea was born. According to legend, a ship with a cargo of tea and Bergamot was travelling to India when it hit a storm and the Bergamot oil contaminated the tea. On arrival the contaminated tea was found to be very pleasant in the hot climate and the rest is history.

Overseeing all of this trip was the site of a smouldering Mount Etna, quite a spectacular backdrop.

Read more about the PEGASUS project.