Lessons from the NRNs
Exchange of relevant experience and know-how amongst stakeholders
As well as sharing good practice it is also important to exchange other forms of relevant experience and understanding throughout the network. Interpreting and exploring actions which have built knowledge and know-how and exchanging this information is as important to the efficacy of policy development, management and delivery as the dissemination of good practice.
The Latvian NRN organised an exchange visit [PDF ] for Latvian forestry owners to learn about the experience of cooperative working in Scandinavia. Finland and Sweden were chosen due to their similar forest conditions and management practices, as well as the fact that many Scandinavian companies are active in the Latvian forestry sector. During the study trip, participants from Finland shared information on the historical establishment of cooperatives, their conditions and economic benefits, as well as about the forestry sector in general. In Sweden, a seminar was held on forest cooperatives, which included meeting with members of such cooperatives, who gave practical information about the challenges and benefits of working together. After the study trip the first forest owners’ cooperative in Latvia, ‘Mezsaimnieks’, was established.
For more examples of the range of methods and techniques used by NRNs for enabling and facilitating people, groups and organisations to share their knowledge and expertise using both face-to-face contact and a range of remote tools, see the case studies below and the relevant experiences here.
Case Study: Exchanging experience between Local Action Groups - Italy
The 'LEADER in practice' project included a series of study visits organised by the LEADER Task Force of the NRN and was offered to all LAGs and rural development practitioners in order to exchange experience in developing innovative project solutions to rural development issues. The purpose of this initiative was to provide study visits to real projects supported through the RDP that addressed key innovation issues in the development of rural areas.
To ensure the exchange of experience was as broad as possible, the project provided attendees with the necessary tools to use the lessons learnt in their own areas. Every visit was accompanied by a set of useful materials, such as key regulations, and examples of communication and financial statements. Information on each visit was presented in detail with texts and images that could be used by the LAGs to present it in their own areas. Also included was all the information needed to use the visits to organise training activities or study visits for local practitioners.
The study visits were organised using a standard formula: they focused on a single subject, examined specific operational issues, and heard from real practitioners. The visits lasted two days and included field trips, with support documents available online. Each example selected was in an advanced stage and financially self-supporting, was related to a specific issue, had positive effects throughout the local community, created local innovation and had been supported by LEADER funding, alongside resources from other funds.
Themes have included: value added through local production, multifunctional tourist services, new forms of renewable energy, and the creation of new economic activities. LAGs that participated in the study visits are in on-going contact and are launching cooperation initiatives and helping each other in carrying out their projects. After the four initial exchanges, fifteen other LAGs have also volunteered to organise study visits in their areas.