Partnerships for Local Environmental Action: Observations on the First Two Years of Rural Action for the Environment
Rural Action for the Environment is a key element of the UK Government's 'Action for the Countryside' initiative. It has two main elements: the provision of advice, training, information and grants to local communities; and the formation of county based networks of environmental organizations to provide the necessary support infrastructure to local projects. This paper suggests that Rural Action is a laudable attempt to move towards a more 'enabling' style of operation which may ultimately result in a significant increase in the level of interest and involvement in environmental action. However, it has also highlighted a number of important problems which are likely to afflict all future attempts to encourage local communities to formulate and carry out sustainable environmental improvements in their areas. Particular difficulties result from the need to reconcile the multiple and possibly contradictory objectives of different agencies, the problems of engaging the interest of local people, the time and other resource constraints faced by those who seek to implement such initiatives and the political imperative to achieve action on the ground as rapidly as possible. Each of these issues will need to be addressed by future schemes if widespread involvement in locally determined environmental action is to be secured.
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