Within Lifescape innovative financial concepts are developed. These provide investments in the rural development that is needed to preserve the local landscape and by doing so let the rural residents and businesses profit from that.
Streekrekening Het Groene Woud
In the region Het Groene Woud near Boxtel, The Netherlands, interest from bank accounts of private persons companies and other organisations is used to finance a regional fund for investments in the local landscape.
Het Groene Woud is a national landscape near Boxtel, Brabant. The Regional Account (Streekrekening) is a financial instrument where private persons, companies and other organisations can open an Isis saving account. They receive a normal interest, but the bank pays an extra interest into the Hortus Fund. The people and organisations can also deposit money into that fund. It is from the interest from this fund that the money subsequently comes to invest into the nature and landscape of the national landscape of Het Groene Woud.
Contact: E-mail Albert-Jan Vester, www.streekrekeninghetgroenewoud.nl (in Dutch).
Farming for Nature
Less farm land is needed for food production in Europe, providing new possibilities to reconnect nature areas, such as heath and rough grazing areas in Natura 2000 areas, with emerging surpluses of neighbouring farm land. This provides win, win, win, win situations, in particular near the metropolis and urban centres in Europe.
In the first place, it provides a new future for farmers. Secondly, reconnecting farming and nature sites provides opportunities for effective and efficient land management of the nature reserves. Without farmers, the costs of managing grassland and heath in Natura 2000 will increase very much, while reconnection will also form a sustainable base for biodiversity and an attractive countryside. In the third place, reconnection provides much more interesting green areas near the cities, where regional food for regional markets is produced which stimulates regional economic development.
The Netherlands public funding is already available to expand nature areas in the Ecological Main Framework (EHS). The willingness in the country to make these investments can be seen as a need to conserve the landscape identity in a densely populated country, where rapid changes in land use occur. A major issue now is whether the mechanism of buying land is the only approach.
In the Farming for Nature projects, a more cost-efficient manner has been developed, in which farmers play a significant role in managing nature and landscape on a voluntary base. Using farmers to implement nature management activities is a good alternative to purchasing land to create nature areas because it costs only fifty percent in comparison to the price for buying land. The system thus directly involves farmers to manage high-value nature areas, which conveniently is often located on agricultural land. Services, such as providing care and clean water are thus provided by the farming community.
In this project, a business plan for a demonstration of the opportunities to combine farming for nature with opportunities for providing care services for people is provided. Part of the business plan is that the Farming for Nature activities need to provide a more sustainable income base for farmers.
www.boerenvoornatuur.nl (in Dutch)
www.ruraleuropeanplatform.org/rep/farmingnature.html (essay in English).