BLC’s 2019 Learning Journey took place over a week in 6 locations in South Devon. Watch the new 4-minute film. Flip through the report on ISSUU.

RIVER: Farming, soil and food

“We have created a system where we are now having to choose between food or wildlife. Species in the UK have a particular challenge – it’s harder to adapt on an island when squeezed by human development. We need to look for ways to enable dynamism in the landscape.” – Ed Parr-Ferris, Devon Wildlife Trust, Conservation Manager

CITY: Energy and mental and physical health

“A key insight was the plethora of great schemes underway in Plymouth, and how there should be a lot of synergies to improve and update what is offered to residents. The issues are all part of the same story; a deeper, harder-to-see problem. It’s inspiring to see all these projects–so little attention is given to this work, no one is hearing about it.” – Joseph Rose, South Hams District Councillor

MOOR: Water, upland farming, tourism and biodiversity

“It is hard to maintain hill farming without a subsidy, the average Dartmoor farmer loses £14,000 each year. But farmers are quite resilient and are coping with change.” – Norman Cowling, Dartmoor Farmers Association

COAST: Fishing and public infrastructure

Four of the landfill sites in Torbay are in flood zones, that means liable to flash floods, and one is in a coastal erosion zone. “It is very rare that we only get one type of flooding: It will be a combination of high tide, torrential rainfall and then there is limited drainage capacity as sewage backs up in combined sewers. Most floodwater is contaminated. However, it is very difficult to get people to imagine that low-lying areas of housing may need to be abandoned.” – Dave Stewart, Service Manager, Engineering, Torbay Council


The Journeyers on Moor Day

BLC’s Learning Journey for Climate Resilience

What would make this place more resilient, who’s making change happen? What might a joined-up climate resilience strategy for South Devon look like? We ran this journey as step one in the South Devon resilience strategy because we wanted to find out who was doing what on the ground, to listen to what people were saying, and to understand what the main challenges to resilience are and where we would find the green shoots of regeneration.

What we witnessed on the Learning Journey is that many green shoots of a climate resilient future are emerging, that they are coming from civil society and that communities need to be part of the co-design process going forward. Together with government, academia, business and other bodies. We also saw the need to invest in both existing and new infrastructure and looked at how systems (food, water etc) might be nudged towards resilience if we could find the leverage points to do so. We travelled around farms in the Dartington area, walked the streets of Plymouth, held conversations about livelihoods and drinking water on Dartmoor and saw first-hand how people on the South Devon coast are coping with extreme weather.

Watch the new 4-minute film. Flip through the report here on ISSUU.

Download our Learning Journey Report as a PDF – DOWNLOAD

A few findings…

  • Morrisons Totnes offers freedom of choice; the store carries around 240,000 SKUs (Shop Keeping Units).
  • Dartington Hall Trust is currently making the first UK River Charter that involves local people in water management.
  • Huxhams Cross Farm is bringing back heritage grains and is a partner in setting up a new mill.
  • Riverford is pioneering employee ownership of their business.
  • Plymouth is also a Social Enterprise City with around 150 social enterprises in a wide range of sectors employing around 7,000 people and bringing in an income of over £500 million p.a.
  • Over the past 8 months Provide Devon, a crisis food charity, have provided emergency food in Plymouth for 1,100 people, two thirds of whom were children.
  • 10 years ago, Tess Wilmott began planting trees, engaging with councils,housing associations, locals and other organisations. Now there are 40 community orchards across Plymouth as well as many herb/veg gardens and wild flower planters.
  • The longest-running tenancy on Dartmoor has been there since 1515, for 20 generations.
  • Morrisons have bought over 10,000 lambs from Dartmoor Farmers this year to sell as meat in their supermarkets.
  • Government funds are only available for repairs to the Brixham harbour wall and not for pro-active protection against future events.
  • The Slapton-Torcross road (partly washed away by Storm Emma in 2018) has been moved inland but it will not be repaired again. The Slapton Line Partnership have been helping their community to plan for the future, change their behaviour (e.g. where they work and live) and accept that things will be different, rather than hoping that ‘the authorities’ can or will solve the problem.

Read the report here on ISSUU to find out who we visited, how we travelled, how we learned, the systems we saw, what Bioregioning is, and what’s next for BLC.

If you are interested in running a Learning Journey in your bioregion, please get in touch. As part of the Learning Journey BLC also co-hosted a Water Resilience Summit with Westcountry Rivers Trust which was free and open to all. Learn more about the presentations, outcomes and outputs on WRT’s website here.

Read the Report

Download BLC’s Learning Journey for Climate Resilience Report as a 20-page PDF – DOWNLOAD or flip through the report here on ISSUU.

This was a journey into long-term climate resilience. We know that engaging with all the aspects of our lives likely to be impacted by climate change can be overwhelming. So this small first step is grounded in place and the practical challenges of human and ecological wellbeing. It comes at a time when climate scientists are issuing ever stronger warnings that we need to wake up, take action now and plan ahead.

Who holds vital knowledge? (The hands of a Dartmoor farmer)

Where does our dinking water come from?

How successfully do we work with nature here?

What’s the role of diversity and choice? (Apples from a single orchard in Chudleigh)