“From polarisation to blur…” Rural estates are stepping up to define 21st century land management

A paper describing, through a case study, how rural estates have a critical part to play in the achievement of both public policy and market ambitions.

Year of Publication2008

Progressive rural estates with scale and scope are well placed to contribute positively to the agendas of the future, a future which is likely to be volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and certainly far more exciting than the recent past. Debates about climate change, energy and food security are changing perceptions as to the value of land and how it is managed. For those providing public goods the opportunity is to better quantify what is provided and to gain recognition and a fair return for their delivery. The objective is to demonstrate that rural estates have a critical part to play in the achievement of both public policy and market ambitions. In short, their time has come again.The article considers the factors which suggest that new approaches and mindsets will be needed if rural estates are to capitalise on the trends presenting themselves on the horizon. It sets out the trends and challenges faced by land managers and then refers to the experience of Clinton Devon Estates as it re-worked its strategy to try to capitalise on the move from a very polarised world to one which is distinctly blurred. It also considers some of the factors that differentiate estates – namely that many are family businesses with time horizons well beyond the next quarter’s shareholder’s meeting and with values encompassing stewardship and responsibility that observers today may prefer to avoid.

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