Landowners' perspectives on the rural future and the role of forests across Europe

B.H.M. Elands, S. Praestholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Contemporary changes in rural Europe have been characterised by the contrasting terms of rural modernisation and productivism versus restructuring and post-productivism. This study investigates how different categories of owners of farm and/or forestland in 16 case study areas in eight European countries perceive future development. Landowners¿ prospects for change are investigated on both the locality and enterprise level. Special attention is given to the role of forestry as a potential future development perspective. The results reveal that both restructuring and modernisation perspectives are important to many landowners. Moreover, a polarisation seems to be developing between a minority of full-time farmers with progressive farming prospects and the vast majority of landowners with declining prospects or little dependency on primary production. More importantly, the research reveals a third employment perspective, which did not have any specific content apart from the social security of having employment opportunities in the locality. Also at the enterprise level, farmers anticipate both restructuring and modernisation practices, even on the very same property. The study proves that it is not only part-time, hobby and retired farmers that are engaged in ¿restructuring¿ activities, but also full-time farmers. As regards the role of forests, the majority of landowners do not interpret forests in an economic development context, but as green infrastructure important to the local quality of life. It can be concluded that forests are closely related to restructuring thinking among landowners. Future perspectives differ from one European rural area to another, dependent on local conditions and problems. More importantly, however, this research reveals that modernisation¿restructuring thoughts and practices of landowners are manifold and heterogeneous in all types of rural areas across Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-85
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • post-productivism
  • landscape changes
  • decision-making
  • land-use
  • denmark
  • agriculture
  • evolution
  • networks
  • paradigm
  • owners

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