Carbon Free Group, from its roots deploying innovative connected solutions in the built environment, in early 2021 began expanding its horizons to tackle the complex challenges facing the rural environment. The Rural Transition Alliance Programme (RTAP) is bringing together like-minded, sustainability champions to accelerate the transition to tackle the climate, soil, biodiversity, mental health and inequality emergencies. In the UK, the post-Brexit scenario adds an additional layer of challenges being faced.
RTAP is building a shared capacity to broker between farmers, land managers and solution providers. Ongoing conversations with the farming community in the UK, Europe, North America and the Global South show how important farms and farmers are as the key pillars in supporting food production and the overall economy. However, many farmers and the traditional supply chains are struggling to adapt to the demands to adopt more sustainable farming practices. While some are leading the charge to innovate and drive change, most others lack the strategic support, finance and resources to connect to the opportunities that the decarbonisation, biodiversity and soil health movements offer.
RTAP aims to help bridge these gaps by making the solutions more easily accessible. This is being done by promoting the sharing of data, knowledge and skills through a collaborative approach that focuses on coordinating the transition locally - on the farm, for that farm - with the farmer, for that farmer, and their community.
In this space, there will always be a huge diversity of situations and needs, alongside many solution pathways and business opportunities. This demands flexibility and an agnostic approach, not fixated on one particular technical or business approach. The advantages of scaling up shared solutions and opportunities is central to our brokering role.
This is what RTAP has set out to put on offer.
RTAP has committed to help farmers participate in the new business opportunities, while increasing clean energy production, quality of soil and its produce, the landscape’s biodiversity and the contributions to improving water, soil and air quality; all of which tackle the emergencies being faced.
The approach will offer access to appropriately selected mixes of skills, tools and know-how to optimise the social, economic and environmental opportunities for sustainable rural development. These are tuned to match each farm(er) setting to create profitable new sustainable approaches.
RTAP covers the interplay across a range of inter-connected themes each farm has to manage - restoration ecology and rewilding, regenerative agriculture, food production, renewable energy generation and storage, repurposing farm and farmyard enterprises, inter-generational security, planning appraisal, public and government engagement, business modelling, investment funding, strategic sustainability and enterprise management - to identify the best possible strategy and management options for managing the transitions. Together, the RTAP and its communities focus on enabling and amplifying sustainable farm income streams throughout the process of transition.
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