Community Supported Agriculture
© Thomas Rippel, on YouTube

Can citizen-led initiatives make a difference for land conservation in Europe?

While examples from around the world often showcase examples of superritch people donating funds to conserve land, Europe seems to be taking a different approaches, such as Community Based Agriculture, allowing all citizens to proactively take charge and secure the land and the environment around us.

In their article from December 2017, The Atlantic reported that Jack and Laura Dangermond, the couple that founded the GIS company ESRI, made a donation of $ 165 million to The Nature Conservancy, enabling the NGO to purchase 24,000 acres (9.700 ha) of undeveloped California coastal land for permanent preservation - again an international example of private land conservation on an incredible scale!

As a reaction to this, a reader has shared an example from Europe with a totally different motivation. A German-based cooperative (Kulturland Genossenschaft—German-language site) purchases agricultural land in order to permanently secure it for organic cultivation, leasing it out for a very low fee to the organic, but beyond that socially engaged farms. The project started three years ago and to date 100 hectares for 10 farms have been purchased and thus permanently secured.

A rapid increase in the prices of the agricultural land across the EU in the recent years has driven an accelerated consolidation process where ever greater plots of land are being industrially farmed. This is forcing organic farming to industrialize rapidly as well.

The cooperatives such as this take the money that their members put in and purchases land with it. In addition, they set up, often very successful, crowd-funding campaigns. Learn more about the cooperative above from their campaign video.

Could European model be applied in the US as well?