Friday, October 21, 2011

Newcastle University Conference Explores Options for a Sustainable Countryside


The Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability and the Newcastle University Law School hosted a conference to address emerging challenges to rural areas, including responding to climate change, food security, renewable energy, and changes to crop and livestock production systems.  EU Center Director A. Bryan Endres served as the opening speaker, presenting a talk on sustainable bioenergy and legal approaches to ecological protection.  Specifically, the presentation discussed the intersection of biotechnology, invasive species and state regulatory regimes within the context of novel plants grown for conversion into bioenergy.

Two other plenary speakers, László Máthé from World Wildlife Int’l, and Patrick Begg from The National Trust (UK), explored, respectively, issues of renewable energy and sustainable rural enterprises.  Separate break-out sessions focused on issues related to climate change, biotechnology and energy strategies.  In the conference’s closing session, conference organizer and Dean of Newcastle Law School, Professor Chris Rodgers, summarized many of the legal/policy issues stakeholders must confront in shaping the future of the UK countryside.  One key component of a sustainable countryside is the need to view rural landscapes from a multi-functional perspective in which food and energy production sustains economically viable communities, while protecting biodiversity and other ecosystems services, including preserving recreational opportunities for the general public—a challenging endeavor that benefits from conferences such as this, which brings together multiple stakeholders from diverse disciplines.

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