PEGASUS (Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management: Unlocking the Synergies)

The CCRI was one of 14 pan-European partners, covering ten member states, who worked as part of a consortia for a 3-year (2015-2018) EU Horizon 2020 funded research project.

The project, PEGAGUS – an acronym for ‘Public Ecosystem Goods And Services from land management: Unlocking the Synergies’ – was led by the IEEP – Institute for European Environmental Policy. The CCRI played a significant role in developing the evaluation framework and the approach to analysis the 34 case studies, including four in the UK.

PEGASUS investigated the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry and 34 case studies used a different approach to unlock the synergies between economic and environmental benefits for society.

Janet Dwyer, Chris Short, Peter Gaskell, Paul Courtney, Dan Keech, Katarina Kubinakova and Nick Lewis were the CCRI researchers involved and between them conducted case-studies in the following areas:

  1. WILD river basin management initiative
  2. Hope Farm – intensive, sustainable arable farming in the east of England
  3. North Pennines multi-stakeholder partnership for sustainable uplands
  4. Care farms
Members from the 14 pan-European partners who worked together on the PEGASUS project


Chris Short led the WILD case study, which was a three-year initiative aimed at bringing about environmental improvements to the rivers and other watercourses in and surrounding the Cotswold Water Park by using an integrated approach. Phase 1 of the WILD project, which concluded on March 31st 2016, brought agencies, the private sector, local communities and landowners together to manage and resolve challenges on local water courses. For the PEGASUS project, CCRI conducted interviews with farmers, stakeholders, partners and the wider community to investigate how this integrated project has strengthened the environmental interest among farmers and communities regarding the water environment and helped agencies deliver multiple benefits. A key aspect of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the approach to implement the required changes in land management and infrastructure management.

Hope Farm

Janet Dwyer worked on the Hope Farm case study with Anne Marechal from IEEP, assisted by CCRI Placement Student, Eleanor Hawketts. Hope Farm is a 181-hectare arable farm which was purchased by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in 2000, after a large-scale public appeal to raise funds. In buying the farm, the RSPB’s goal was to use it to test and demonstrate management practices to support and enhance farmland bird populations, to inform national policy. It also aimed to show that these practices could be combined with profitable commercial farming. The farm was chosen because it was typical of arable farms in central and eastern England, producing on good quality, clay-based soils. The aim of the PEGASUS case-study project was to provide the RSPB with fresh ideas for the future direction of Hope farm and approaches to disseminate key ideas to surrounding farms, as well as giving other stakeholders the opportunity to voice their ideas about how Hope Farm could be best utilized. Following on from an initial literature and data review, the research team spoke to farmers, farm advisors, representatives of environment agencies. This case study identified that sharing ideas and experimenting with new approaches has the greatest potential to unlock new synergies, and the RSPB is now working in partnership with farmers and other technical and market experts all based in the local area.

Care Farms

Dan Keech, Paul Courtney and Katarina Kubinakova worked on the Care Farms case-study. A literature review was undertaken and typology of care farms identified before undertaking interviews at three farms covering farm diversification, institutionalized care and social cohesion. The key ESBOs are social, but care farms depend on high quality environmental ESBOs. It is clear that there is also huge growth potential, as well as an interest in improving the governance approach. It is also clear that health benefits have been, and continue to be, difficult to measure. The case-study provided a strong focus on how non-monetary drivers can significantly influence both ESBO provision and the nature of commercial/business operations.


Peter Gaskell and Nick Lewis made two extended visits to this case study area, which focused on the Allen Valleys in the North Pennines AONB. It is an area of wild and dramatic moorland with high plateaus and valleys and numerous small towns and villages. Peter and Nick conducted meetings with various stakeholders, including the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership, who were carrying out a four-year Heritage Lottery Funded project that aims to conserve and restore some of the area’s natural and cultural heritage and whose work is similar in nature to the overall objectives of the PEGASUS project. During participatory workshops with members of the local community and other stakeholders, participants selected what they felt were the most important five ESBOs for this area.

The three ESBOs ranked highest by the participants were:

  • Rural Vitality
  • Landscape Character and Cultural Heritage
  • Species and Habitats

A PEGASUS toolkit was developed based on the 34 case studies, which was designed to help local projects to develop and sustain initiatives that produce environmentally and socially beneficial outcomes, though at the same time recognising the challenges. The project has shown that there are often many barriers that prevent projects and initiatives achieving success. The toolkit has been developed with the practitioners delivering the case studies involved in PEGASUS and revealed that is a demand for a toolkit that highlights those methods and techniques which can help local projects achieve success.

The toolkit is structured to highlight possible actions to help develop and guide projects and initiatives through the different stages from initiation to implementation and review and evaluation. Its uses the case studies to bring these issues to life so that they are relevant to any local project or initiative. Chris Short presented the PEGASUS toolkit at a workshop in The Hague in November 2017.

The WILD project was chosen as one of the 12 in-depth case studies because it is a mature initiative that was able to provide robust evidence as to the impact of this integrated approach. It was shown that the integrated local delivery is transferable to other situations across the EU and the level of engagement between public and private partnership is one of a number of such initiatives currently developed across Europe. 

See CCRI project page for WILD

The main policy recommendations to come out of the project are:

  • Bring people to the centre stage, building on their interests and motivations.
  • Promote cooperative ways of working (i.e. through more multi-actor groups, or ‘collective’ action) to increase engagement and commitment of farmers and foresters.
  • Build trust with local actors by embedding dialogue with stakeholders at all stages of the policy cycle.
  • Allow for a more flexible and joined up use of the policy mix, better adapted to local needs.
  • Make more of market related opportunities, including greater interaction between public and private initiatives.
  • Mainstream the combined use of facilitation and capacity building with other measures so that it becomes the norm rather than the exception.

At the final conference in Brussels the project team shared the key messages from the project about ways to enhance the provision of environmental and social benefits by EU agriculture and forestry in the future.

These are contained within the 4 policy briefings.

  • Current regulations and CAP funded incentives provide an essential foundation for the provision of environmental and social benefits by agriculture and forestry in the EU. However, they have not be used so far in a way that delivers the wide-ranging, long-lasting changes that are required to meet EU objectives and the growing societal demand for a more sustainable approach.
  • There is a need for a step change in policy to deliver more environmental and social benefits. The new approach should bring the social dimension – people – to the centre stage. Incentive schemes need to minimise the use of a narrow, mainly transactional, approach to the provision of environmental and social benefits and put greater emphasis on working with the interests and motivations of the people best placed to take action.
  • There is therefore a strong need to better understand the structure and dynamics of related local social processes, as they are critical for securing increased and more widespread provision of environmentally and socially positive outcomes. Policies offering incentives and support are only effective if people can respond to them.
  • Multi-actor approaches were found to have a lot of potential in terms of consolidating these social processes and building a greater commitment by key actors (e.g. better identification of synergies and trade-offs locally, greater sense of ownership, etc.). They can also increase the scale of impact. Policies should seek to encourage the engagement of more and a more diversified range of actors so that individual efforts are less isolated, but more often are part of a concerted effort at territorial level and/or between business partners along a supply chain.
  • As part of a multi-actor approach, strengthening the links with the supply chain was found to have significant potential in many conditions. It can lead to potentially more sustained actions and more robust business models, while more environmental and social benefits can be provided if they are internalised within the value chain.
  • Institutions responsible for agricultural and broader rural land management need to build trust, by embedding dialogue with stakeholders at all stages of the policy cycle, and creating a safe environment in which local actors feel empowered to take action collectively.
  • More innovative and locally tailored policy mixes could produce better results. One aspect of this is more flexibility, less constraints imposed by complex EU rules that can inhibit a real focus on results rather than compliance. The aim should be for different measures to be used more easily together – matching diverse needs on the ground more readily.
  • More vigorous and larger scale action on the ground with more group involvement needs to be married to publicly determined priorities, at different levels – from the local to the EU. More precise data and associated maps can help in this respect. Under the project, new maps of agricultural and forestry systems and patterns of ecosystem services provision have been produced at a sufficient resolution to establish patterns and potential associations at EU and Member State levels. These could be developed further with the benefit of more detailed datasets, that are often available at regional/local levels.
  • Support for facilitation and capacity building should play a more central role in policies aiming at better environmental and social outcomes in rural areas. This implies that more funding is allocated to measures such as knowledge exchange, training, demonstration projects, and in particular facilitation and advice to farmers and foresters on the ground to assist the development and operation of multi-actor initiatives, innovative and pilot projects, results-based schemes, etc. This is relevant today and will be even more relevant if the CAP is to become more flexible and more based on performance in the future, as the European Commission is currently proposing.

Further information about the PEGASUS project can be found below:

Briefings on the project’s key messages in relation to the case study lessons, social and local processes, mapping and policy recommendations are available here.

For more news and information about the project, including our Final Conference, click here.

A new film was also released for the CCRI case study for the PEGASUS project, WILD (Water & Integrated Local Delivery). WILD is a collaborative project which has brought local communities and landowners together in understanding and getting  involved in the management of local water courses. With local community input it also devised and delivered a plan of enhancements over a 3-year period.

PEGASUS Case Study – The WILD Project UK from novadada on Vimeo.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for research and innovation grant agreement no 633814.