European Countryside

Online ISSN: 1803-8417
Publications
Article
This paper discusses the historical changes to and the uses of floodplain landscapes in Luxembourg from 1770-2000 as a case study of a region with a rural past and a peri-urban present. Based on the historical landscape analysis approach, the study comprises historical evidence of written, cartographic and oral sources collected at a regional (Gutland) and a local (Syr Valley) level. The floodplains investigated were old cultural landscapes, shaped by agriculture, livestock husbandry, river regulation measures, land improvement, milling, navigation, mining and fisheries. Landscape change has been characterised by different periods of intensity, however it was not until the last century that these changes had a large-scale impact, inducing a complete loss of several ecological and socio-economic functions. A historical perspective of local landscape conditions and land use change is needed to maintain landscape identity in a contemporary peri-urban environment, and to base planning and restoration activities on reliable data.
 
A placard from the late 1940s glorifying the life in a collective farm. The text says " Come, comrade, to us in the kolkhoz! " Source: Internet.  
A meeting for organizing a collective farm. The slogan reads: "The way of kolkhozes, the way of socialism is the only right way for the working peasants!" /J.V. Stalin/. Source: Internet
The same village on the Soviet topographic map from the 1980s. Most of the settlement is erased. Map from the Estonian Land Board.  
Article
The paper explores time boundaries in landscapes on the example of collectivization of Estonian agriculture after the Second World War. It argues that changing political regimes leave their imprint also in landscape, causing temporal boundaries. These temporal boundaries work as screens that influence our understanding of the past landscapes. The paper explores the "transparency" of these boundaries in the context of landscape change and continuity and tries to explain the essence of landscape change, combining different approaches to landscape.
 
Article
The most important recent political development has been the accession to the European Union in 2004 of eight former communist states and their integration to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP as a largely uniform policy trying to cater for the needs of the very varied agricultural industry in 27 states across both Eastern and Western Europe is itself undergoing a radical transformation as politicians attempt to shift the main focus of its activities from production subsidies to a more broadly conceived sustainable rural development strategy. The paper concludes that for these changes to be managed effectively and to support stable and sustainable rural landscapes there must be publicly-led regional strategies in place.
 
Article
Villages abandoned in the last decades as a result of the inland rural areas migration are a serious and common problem in many European countries requiring a strict attention from the politicians and the community in general. The authors looked into this problem in the Portuguese context, with special emphasis on the deserted village of Broas , close to Sintra , in the province of Estremadura , Western Portugal. Firstly, the general causes of human abandonment of rural areas were analysed especially in what concerns the evolution of national and E.C. agrarian economy and other social issues, related particularly with lack of quality of life and well being. The subsequent problems of heritage conservation required also a certain attention from the authors. In fact, many of the abandoned villages have valuable vernacular heritage elements and are involved by cultural landscapes, sometimes also of heritage value. As these inland areas have in general escaped to farming intensive pressure, an important natural heritage frequently exists. Different approaches to heritage valorization, based on different Portuguese experiences and other concepts, were also examined by the authors. These processes can go from the simple interpretation centre to the eco museum development or the building recovery for tourism purposes. Nevertheless, the main measures for the reinvention of the rural must be related to the establishment of economic opportunities for new inhabitants that should be based on multifunctional agro re-conversion activity adapted to small parcels and extensive systems, associated or not with small craft industries.
 
Article
The EU LEADER initiative has been running for 20 years and plays an important role in the development of European rural areas, however, in countries joining to the EU after 2004 it is still a relatively new phenomenon. In Hungary, for example, the LEADER+ programme was launched in 2005 with an experimental phase (called a "LEADER type initiative") and has developed to be a fully applied EU programme only in the current programming period. This paper explores the implementation of the LEADER programme in eastern Hungary. The examined Local Action Groups face diverse challenges concerning human, social, physical and financial capital, networks and social learning. The study investigates the opportunities and threats faced by the LAGs, with special regard to institutions, governance and applied initiatives. The roles of the LAGs within the social, economic and cultural context of given areas are examined through Lukesch's (2007) model FOG - forms of governance. The model is a tool to explore the interrelationships local partnership, local needs and local socio-cultural environment. The results of the FOG test show that the prevailing mode of governance in the examined LAGs emphasises animation actions as important elements of operation. Although the importance of animation actions is underlined by the result of the test, their presence between the initiatives is less than it should be. Good examples of animation actions are given: participatory video and a case study of its Hungarian application are introduced. Finally the role of Universities in animation actions is emphasised and closer relation of them with RD networks is called for.
 
Article
The article describes the methodology of landscape and biodiversity monitoring in Estonia since 2004 for complying with European Union agricultural and environmental policies. The paper includes an overview of the introduction of the agri-environment programme; specifies how landscape features in agricultural and semi-natural areas are monitored, and to which extent agricultural impacts on environment are buffered by support measures. Designing monitoring networks to be spatially more efficient regarding changes in rural landscapes and assessing agricultural impacts is one of the keys to upgrading monitoring methods and decision-support systems.
 
Article
Since 1990, eastern Germany has been facing not only economic transformation but also demographic change. Two components of demographic change are population decline and ageing. They have a strong influence on landscapes, for example on land consumption by housing and industry. Three rural case study areas in eastern Germany are analysed which have been facing a strong population decline and ageing process over the past 20 years. Expert interviews were carried out and statistics as well as documents were analysed. It is argued that demographic change can be seen as a characteristic of instability in social systems. Moreover, it is an important driving force of landscape change, weakening the socio-ecological resilience of landscapes.
 
Article
The impact of demographic change and the increasing polarization into structurally strong and weak rural areas lead to new challenges for today's older generation in rural area in Austria in terms of growing old in a self-determined way: The quality of the activities of daily life is strongly affected by spatial aspects. Aside from factors related to natural environment above all factors related to the spatial structure are of great importance, such as the supply of infrastructure. This results in large differences in the quality of growing old in differently structured rural areas. Spatially relevant aspects manifest themselves to varying extents depending on the requirements of different groups of elderly people: While those who are still healthy, those who have a driving-licence and a stable economic background are hardly affected by spatial aspects, deficiencies in the supply of services primarily have an impact on those who are physically handicapped, not integrated into any social networks, who have little money and on those involved in securing the quality of life of the elderly such as family members and employees in mobile services of (social) medical care of the elderly. This article bases upon my doctoral thesis "Aging in rural areas - a spatial analysis" finished in 2005. It comprises the contents of the latest literature (2005) and the results of a solid field research in four rural Austrian micro-regions. The following statements are related to these micro-regions.
 
Article
Based on interpretations of policies concerning elements of multifunctionality of agriculture and rural areas (MFA) in China and Finland (representing the EU), we apply a timetable to illustrate the evolution of these policies in the past twenty years. It can be concluded that in terms of the three elements of MFA, namely, food security, food safety and animal welfare, there are clear differences in the time and frequency of the corresponding policies implemented or amended in China and Finland. On the other hand, for environmental protection and rural viability, the relevant policies have been addressed and renewed following a similar timetable in both countries. A number of reasons for the difference in implementations relating to economic development, the supply of food products, the demand for environmental services, income level and values, and policy-making structures are given.
 
Article
The competitive ability of agricultural farms depends on the efficiency of the utilization of production factors. The elaboration presents the differentiation of the production factors use in agricultural farms located in four regions within the framework of the FADN system. The period of farm investigation covers the years 2004-2006. The research deals with the accepted agricultural types of farms: field crops, milk and granivores. A relatively large differentiation of agricultural farms was observed between regions in respect of cropland area, economic size and current financial liquidity. The share of the debts in farms was not significant and remained at a relatively similar level in the regions analysed. The greatest differentiation between the regions concerned the yield of equity. Farms of "granivores" agricultural type, especially those situated in the Pomorze and Mazury regions, were characterized by the highest efficiency of the use of production factors and also by the economic power. The lowest efficiency of these factors appeared in arable farms.
 
Article
Recently, in France, some farmers have decided to develop traditional farm biofuels, through the production of pure oleaginous oil. This production requires the acquisition of small colza and sunflower oil presses, which gives rise to the pooling of resources between farmers in local cooperatives (the CUMA). This type of structure reveals a will to privilege agricultural autonomy rather than increasing production. It plays a large part in social economy or non profit projects. This local and traditional procedure, largely disconnected from the industrial oilseed rape production, is carried out, in the north west of France, by cattle breeders who try to produce their own farm oilcakes and save energy. There is no need to devote much land to the production of colza to reach their objectives and they are not in competition with the biofuel industry. These local projects are based on the principles of co-construction between the farmers, the CUMA movement and the agricultural organizations and institutions. We must define the reality and explore the significance of the co-construction process in these agro-environmental and territorial projects.
 
Article
The rurality of small Northern countries such as Finland has traditionally been based on family farm practices. However, rural sustainability is polarizing between the large-scale industrial agriculture and the more regional and multifunctional small-scale specialisations. This paper addresses small-scale entrepreneurship which aims at enhancing sustainable livelihood and sustainable development on farms. We identify two main lines of pioneering rural entrepreneurship in Finland, local food and renewable energy. Firstly, it is asked what kind of barriers and development targets these new productions are expected to have. Secondly, to what extent do they reflect real transformation as described particularly by the multifunctionality and ecological modernisation thinking? The two empirical case studies were carried out in Central Finland. We find that individual farms begin to identify the importance of mutual networking while establishing new businesses meeting the sustainability criteria. This certainly indicates social transformation. However, we also conclude that farmers in Central Finland seldom go for radical alternative productions imitating strong ecological modernisation.
 
Article
Slovenia became an independent state in 1991 with immigration flows in the country strengthening since 1998. The majority of the immigrants, mostly seeking employment, originate from the former Yugoslav republics. Parallel to this work migration flow from the south and after accession to the EU, Slovenia also attracted other types of migration from EU member states particularly amenity migrants. These amenity migrants show a strong interest in the Slovenian peripheral rural regions with its reasonably priced real estate and its natural landscape character. In the case of these foreign home owners an important question is whether and to what extent they are symptomatic of the processes of globalization? To address this, a detailed survey has been conducted in the Pomurska region located in eastern Slovenia and bordering Hungary, Austria and Croatia. The survey focused on foreign home owners who either became permanent residents or who are second home owners. The results of this empirical work prove very insightful of the processes going on in the region and the integration of migrants into rural society in Slovenia.
 
Article
Amenity migration is a specific type of migration which is not motivated by higher wages - it has been brought about by the desire to render more valuable natural or socio-cultural environment of the target territory, and it is often directed from metropolitan to rural areas. The group of amenity migrants from chosen areas of the Czech Republic was described and identified on basis of collected empirical data set. Results are discussed with relevant authors who currently study amenity migration abroad. It follows from the mentioned results that amenity migrants in model areas are rather university educated, economically strong and more creative. They prefer natural amenities to cultural ones, their in-migration is not related to tourism and second homes phenomenon as it was expected earlier. They use current residential potential for permanent living in the amenity-rich places.
 
Article
The delimitation of rural and urban municipalities as well as the delimitation of contiguous rural areas has not been sufficiently resolved in either academic literature or legislative practice. In relation to the scale and size of their administrative units, different countries use very different methods for delimiting rural municipalities that are based on simple counts of the population, on a municipality's position in the system of public administration or on a combination of multiple socio-economic factors. For the delimitation of rural areas, the various EU member states utilize a method based on population density in relatively large NUTS III regions. This article discusses divergent approaches to the delimitation of rural municipalities, on the one hand, and the delimitation of contiguous rural areas, on the other. Concepts concerning the delimitation of rural municipalities, along with differing characteristics leading to the delimitation of rural municipalities for the statistical processing of large amounts of data or characteristics for subjective evaluations of a small group of units, are discussed using the example of Czechia's settlement structure. The article then focuses on the critical evaluation of methods used for the delimitation of rural areas and, on the basis of various tested variations, proposes a new method for delimiting rural areas in Czechia, using modified OECD criteria. Changes arising both from the significantly smaller units of observation, where instead of considering units at the NUTS III level - regions (kraj) in Czechia, we consider 384 administrative regions of Municipalities with Extended Powers (MEP), as well as from variable changes to the critical values of population density so as to better account for the Czech settlement structure. The article emphasizes the necessity of using different approaches in studying the delimitation of rural municipalities and rural areas, at various scale levels, and the inappropriateness of using the methods of delimitation for rural areas that are currently used for all EU member states, at the national scale.
 
Location of the study areas. Source: Google Maps, (accessed December, 2010). 
Type of Services offered by Rural Tourism Units, by region (%).
Type of Products offered, by region (%).
Words used to describe the Landscape, by region (%).
Article
During the last decades marginal rural territories of Europe lost a great part of their productive character, acquiring nowadays new functions, roles and social meanings which, in turn, are leading to their perception as consumption places. Among the new roles and functions, environmental protection, nature conservation, tourism and leisure activities seem to be the most significant. Tourism, in particular, has an increasing role in the production of a certain image of rurality, through the use of powerful specific (although global) symbols such as green landscapes, authenticity and typicality, contributing to the reinvention of remote rural areas. Based on a preliminary content analysis of promotional materials from Italian rural tourism units, this paper aims to discuss the way rural areas and rurality are presented and sold to tourists and to debate some implications for local development. Empirical evidence suggests a lack of correspondence between the real rural and the promoted rurality. (open access to the full article here: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/euco.2011.3.issue-1/v10091-011-0001-4/v10091-011-0001-4.xml?format=INT)
 
Article
Stream-bank vegetation is an important constituent of landscape. Many streamside stands are not in good condition at present. The article presents methodology for the evaluation of stream-bank vegetation in rural landscapes. The goals of the paper are the registration and evaluation of stands as the basis for subsequent management proposal. Streams are divided into sections delimited by significant artificial or natural barriers. Within the frame of sections, segments are determined. Segments are parts of the section with similar general characteristics. Surveying includes site assessment, river valuation and streamside stand valuation. The results of evaluation are register outputs: maps and database. The register serves as a summary of stream-bank vegetation and as the basis of a management proposal.
 
Article
The setting for this research is the region of Kotor and the Bay of Risan in Montenegro which are listed as protected cultural and natural heritage sites by UNESCO. The central themes of this paper are heritage preservation and the promotion of tourism. It will demonstrate how heritage can be used by certain actors in the area studied, particularly those in the tourism industry, to create an identity specific to the region of Kotor. It is assumed that there is a real determination to set the area apart from the rest of the country by highlighting particular cultural elements. The tourism sector's commitment to promote a type of tourism which it considers better adapted to the site will be put into light, bearing in mind the conservation element but also taking into account the commercial aspect. The arguments and the methods used to promote the region will be presented, showing how elements specific to the site are emphasized. An analysis of the presentation and the explanations that support the construction of this identity and the strategies aimed at developing a type of tourism specific to the Kotor site will also be undertaken. Lastly, this paper will highlight some of the consequences that tourism, and particularly certain promotional efforts, can have on the site.
 
Article
This paper focuses on the path dependency of landscapes in Latgale, Latvia from the present perspective at the regional and local scale. During the last centuries Latvia's landscapes have passed through radical changes, which were driven by political events. Each new political era discarded the ideas of the previous era and subsequently reorganized the land(scape) according to the new views. At the regional level the role of history is significant in analyzing landscapes while at the local level the main force is people, often themselves not knowing the history of the place but putting the existing path dependency into practise or disregarding it. The biographies of two former villages are discussed: one which is nearly deserted but filled with forgotten or neglected cultural heritage values and the other - alive and interwoven with some old (almost forgotten) cultural practises. Path dependency in landscapes is relevant only regarding the attachment of people to a place and the experience on which their further desires are based.
 
Article
All over the world, UNESCO biosphere reserves are designated in order to protect regionally distinctive landscapes. This designation represents a significant up-valuation of nature reserves and landscape conservation areas, forests and other mostly rural landscapes. In cases where biosphere reserves include urban areas, additional objectives are established such as the development of urban-rural-relationships. The Biosphere Reserve Bliesgau which is a sustainable model region responds to this challenge. Located in a rural part of Saarland, the biosphere Bliesgau is still facing further challenges which are connected to the designation as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This designation entails many obligations that are conditions and restrictions for the actors on the one hand and that provide opportunities for key personalities to make progress in achieving their aims concerning nature conservation on the other. Hence, not only prospects but potential for conflict emerged which complicates regional development in rural Saarland. A primary survey in the biosphere reserve allowed for the identification of the presented conflicts.
 
Age of AES recipients compared to non-recipients (N=321). Age is missing for farms not owned by individuals. 
Farm size of AES recipients compared to non-recipients (N=324). Farm size was unavailable for 1farm. 
Article
Traditional rural biotopes (TRBs) are high nature value farmlands (HNV). There are only 20.000 ha of identifiableTRB left in Finland. Ecosystem services were explored as a way of better understanding the value of TRBs to society. Postal questionnaires were sent out to all farmers in Raasepori Municipality in SW Finland to locate TRBs. Frequency of on-farm tourism, direct sales and services to the public were compared between farms with and without TRBs. Return rate for questionnaires (n=326) was 40%. Farms with TRBs had a higher rate of services and sales to the general public. A third of respondents with TRBs said their TRBs provide non-agricultural goods or services and 1/4 said their TRBs are utilized by people from off-farm. Changes in policy toward more evidence-based approaches, adaptive management and consideration of ecosystem services could improve conservation of TRBs.
 
Article
As a consequence of widespread agricultural intensification, land abandonment and urbanization, most European landscapes are undergoing fundamental changes. The drivers and effects of these dynamics and possible approaches for guiding them (or at least coping with them) are addressed by two relatively distinct research communities dealing with the concepts of "cultural landscapes" and "resilience". This editorial introduces the key elements of the resilience approach and illustrates these in a landscape-related context. Incorporating the resilience perspective into landscape research sheds light on drivers and patterns of landscape change and illustrates opportunities for its constructive management. This will be dealt with in detail in the following three contributions to this special issue.
 
Hereditary erosion-prone strip field systems in Roztocze, Poland (photo: A. Printsmann 2006). 
Article
The editorial introduces papers mostly presented at the 22<sup>nd</sup> session of the biennial Permanent European Conference for the Study of the Rural Landscape (PECSRL) in the sub-theme Interface between Marx and Brussels. The title of the Conference was European Rural Future: Landscape as an Interface and it was held from 4<sup>th</sup>-9<sup>th</sup> of September 2006 in Berlin and Hubertusstock, Brandenburg, Germany. The place and time were liminal as European Union (EU) accession included eight post-communist states on 1<sup>st</sup> of May 2004. The papers that make up this twin special issue address the interface between the East/West and the past/future each uniquely.
 
Article
Contemporary Slovene rural areas as multifunctional localities with heterogeneous and mosaic structures and, exposed to enormous restructuring, are trapped between traditional processes and structures on one side and modern development processes on the other. Goriška (predominately a rural area) is part of a strongly integrated cross-border region with a very diverse geographical structure, huge historical, cultural and natural heritage and a significant share of LFAs with increasing levels of inter-regional disparities. This paper focuses on networking of SMEs in these Slovene rural areas. The results confirm the complex nature of the relationships between favourable business environments (built-up and supportive business milieu) and processes of embeddedness and international integration.
 
Importance (average proportion) of "collaboration with other firms" at four different levels. (Source: authors.)
Financial space. Percentage of finances flowing from different sources into the firms. (Source: authors.)
Impact of Global Economic Crisis into the particular category at four different levels. (Source: authors.) 
Article
The aim of the paper is to present original findings obtained from the analysis of the SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) embedded in the South Moravia Region (Czech Republic). Data collected from the survey during 2010 was analyzed in the context of the DERREG project and the results were set with respect to globalization tendencies. The first part of the Business network questionnaire for the Czech case study took place during the spring. Forty three Small and Medium-Sized firms out of 550 approached replied to the email questionnaire. The responses provided us with a valuable insight in to how SMEs located in various territorial settings are able to develop and maintain a certain structure to their business network. In the second stage of activities, structured interviews were conducted during the summer of 2010 with follow-up questions from the questionnaire as well as the completion of an "Actor map". The analysis allowed the interviewee to classify the firms according to the dominant function of their networks. Results found that the majority of companies were not affected significantly by the economic crisis. The worst years for them were 2008 and 2009 where profits decreased in all areas of activity. Small businesses agreed that in a time of crisis it is much harder to succeed in the market against supermarkets and wholesalers, who can afford to lower the prices. A positive side of the crisis can be the fact that much more companies try to break into foreign markets where they get offered better prices for some commodities. The majority of respondents agreed that the economic crisis is retreating and they look optimistically into the future.
 
Annual Planted Area (ha) 2000 – 2009 Source: Forest Service 2010  
Barriers to planting forestry Source: National Farm Survey 2006 (N=1017)  
Article
It is argued that European agriculture is currently confronted with a multitude of critical challenges and developmental changes, in which the viability of farms based solely on traditional forms of production applies only to a minority who can compete at the level and scale of global markets. The challenge to the remaining majority of farmers and to wider agricultural communities is to remain viable through adoption of alternative farm activities and enterprises under what is described as a multifunctional model of agriculture. One activity that is emerging as a realistic economic option under this rural restructuring is forestry. From an increasing range of policy perspectives within agriculture, rural development, environment, tourism and industry, forestry is becoming redefined as much more than a resource for primary production. It is also an activity which offers enormous potential as a secondary resource, particularly when its significance as an ecological, amenity, recreational and environmental reserve is successfully realised. However, evidence would suggest that Irish farmers have been particularly slow to embrace forestry as a potential resource. In what is generally accepted as a time of economic crisis for the agricultural sector, this paper explores the perceptions, attitudes and apparent reluctance of Irish farmers to engage in forestry as a viable farm enterprise. We assess this evidence against the prevailing EU and national policy context for forestry, particularly the range of incentives and/or barriers to forestry, and seek to establish if, and to what extent, reasons lie within the policy context, or whether farmers contest the notion of forestry as an agricultural activity for other, more ideological or practical, reasons.
 
Small Moravian towns 
Bučovice: St. Lawrence church is divided from the rest of the main square by the main road from Brno to Slovakia
Nové Město na Moravě: prefabricated houses penetrated to the vicinity of the historical core
Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz) an example of historical heritage in small towns
Article
Small towns ensure services on the basic urban level, jobs, social contacts, occasions to travel outside the micro-region, services of the state administration and sometimes also an identity of the micro-region. Mass commuting from villages to small towns is usual for Czechia for a long time. Small towns in peripheral regions are of our interest. Character of these towns is given by the remoteness and bad accessibility from regional centers, by the lack of investments, problems of human capital etc. Nevertheless, the peripheral small towns remain the definite centers of their hinterlands because of the lack of competition in majority of cases. The second demographic transition leads to ageing of rural population. Sub-urbanization and counter-urbanization impacts on the population shift from big and medium cities to the countryside. In the process of globalization, the countryside including small towns plays a role of bearer of the traditional way of life. Transferring the jobs from productive to non-productive branches endangers the countryside by losing jobs in industry. Increasing value of leisure, environment, space, security etc. offers new chances for small towns.
 
Article
Equality in access to education is a basic right of every citizen of the Czech Republic. However, this principle exhibits not only a social aspect but also a spatial, geographical dimension. The absence or closure of elementary school can be a spatial expression of unequal access to elementary education and a part of the process of peripherization of certain area. The consequences of such development are often most intensive in less densely populated rural areas. Thus in the article the changes in spatial distribution of elementary schools in Czechia between 1961 and 2004 are analyzed with special focus on rural areas. These changes are not only characterized but their possible outcomes and impacts on the functioning on local communities in rural space are being discussed as well.
 
Article
Sustainable tourism is seen as one of the ways to improve the socio-economic situation in lagging behind rural areas while maintaining high natural values and attractiveness. Whether and how it could be done was studied in the Drawskie Lake District in North-western Poland via document analysis and expert interviews. The biggest impediments are: inconsistent legal framework, incompatible infrastructure for increased number of tourists where there are no long-term strategies for development because of the instability of local authorities which hampers the co-operation of tourism management, nature conservation and municipalities as the responsibilities are not clearly agreed. Yet, local initiatives have found innovative ways to combine tourism, nature conservation and generate income.
 
Article
The paper tells the story of the shaping of a Soviet oil-shale mining city - Kohtla-Järve, Estonia - by contrasting the public sphere represented by photo-albums with private ones represented by life-stories. The reason for Kohtla-Järve's existence is oil-shale and its usage as political tool has caused the city's rise and decline in the socio-economic turmoil of the 20<sup>th</sup> century. Yet, as contradictory as we would like to think results of visual representation analysis and a biographical approach concerning Soviet and contemporary worlds are, they both still broadly follow political and socio-economic circumstances. Imagery and life-stories are not poles apart, they just focus on different things; representations are somewhat rooted in real life and biographies are partly lived in public space.
 
Article
In the present study, our intention is to reveal the positive and negative aspects of living, in the rural communities appearing in Romania in the last 5-6 decades; often, these have occupied territories with astonishing natural landscapes, situated close to large rural settlements with a century-old history. If, from the perspective of the quality of the natural components of the environment, inside the perimeter of these settlements we can talk about extremely favorable habitat conditions, from the perspective of the access to utilities and technical facilities, we can identify a primitive, rudimentary lifestyle, whose only goal is most oftenly, the access of the minimum resources for subsistence. This case study has been made on two communities, situated at the contact between the Subcarpathians of Arges and the Iezer-Papusa and Leaota Mountains, respectively: the Gura Pravat village, a formal settlement, which extends along the left bank of the Argesel river, north of Namaiesti tourist village and an informal village situated on the left bank of the Dambovita river, inside the Complexe Reserve Cheile de la Cetateni.
 
Article
The dehesa in the southwestern Iberian Peninsula represents both a unique agrosilvopastoral land-use and a rural social-ecological system. Over the last 60 years, the dehesa has experienced profound modifications of its overall structure, affecting the resilience of the system. Based on land change analysis combined with interviews with land managers, the paper gives insights on how the dehesa has been modified by the combination of land-users' strategies and driving forces on different scales, using a political-ecological approach. The results of the cross-scale analysis suggest that land dynamics are highly differentiated spatially and temporally due to a diversity of management strategies and actors' attitudes towards conservation and innovation. The development of the dehesa has to come along with an active use of its resources. Furthermore, European policy for agriculture and local development must be sensible to regional land-use system's idiosyncrasy as they are the key factors for the dehesa's future.
 
Classification of Firms in Övre Norrland according to Degree of internationalisation of business activities.
Patterns of Non-Market Interaction in Övre Norrland.
Patterns of Interaction with Supporting Institutions in the Five Case Study Regions.
Article
The relative importance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), of local embeddedness and engagement with the wider economic and technical environment has been a subject of debate, in the context of regional development, for some years. There is increasingly general acceptance that both are essential for regional development. This paper considers the role and characteristics of business networks within the structural shift of the rural economy, away from local resource based activities towards a more diversified 'New Rural Economy'. A better understanding of the relative importance of local and wider networking by rural SMEs is crucial for more effective policy, especially that intended to support rural-urban interaction and cooperation. Findings from a case study in Northern Sweden are presented.
 
MUAF main building built in 1919 Fig 2. MUAF "Q" building where the UAKE seats
DERREG kick-off meeting Fig 6. DERREG coordinator Michael Woods (left) with the Irish team  
Article
EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE is defined as an international on-line scientific journal in the branch of rural development. It publishes first of all theoretical and methodological articles, dealing with multi-functional development of countryside, articles related to regional aspects of rural development and with problems of individual branches connected with the countryside. EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE is a journal supporting European processes of integration, collaboration of experts from European countries and the idea of Europe of Regions. EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE deals with problems of European countryside - although general and/or theoretical problems of rural research from other continents are welcome. Widening of the European Community and common agricultural policy put a joint future ahead of the rural development in whole Europe. Our journal welcomes articles from different disciplines dealing with the countryside having in mine conceptions of sustainability and locality: ecology of rural landscape, rural sociology, demographic development of rural regions, human resources, gender, multifunctional development of countryside, role of agriculture and other branches, rural and agro-tourism, geography of rural micro-regions, problems of rural borderland, rural settlement, small towns as rural centres, rural planning and architecture and other aspects of rural development. The publishing in EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE is open for all experts from universities, scientific institutions and other workplaces of investigation. The authors will pay symbolic amount for the publication of their papers. We go out from the presupposition that a majority of results arise within different grants projects where publication costs are an integral part of the budget. Other expenses connected with publishing of EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE are covered by the MUAF Faculty of Agronomy. On the other side, the papers published in EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE will be free accessible to all potential readers through the net. By such a way we hope in better quotation of individual papers and increasing value of the papers and their authors. Additionally, professional way of publishing helps to complete this aim.
 
Article
The paper analyses production and economic characteristics of the farms, situated in the dry regions, defined according to various methods, in the Czech Republic. To consider the chance for obtaining the support for the less-favoured areas (natural handicapped areas) according to the rules of the EU is its main aim. It was found out that drought can have negative influence on the economic results in case of some farms and thus endanger agricultural cultivation of the land. For obtaining the subsidies in the natural handicapped areas after 2013 it would be necessary to change the rules of these measures in the Czech Republic. In light of recent Commission proposals on the CAP after 2014, analytical results support the requirements for better tailored policies to diverse rural regions of the EU.
 
Article
Decentralization of decision-making on the availability of essential public goods for regional and local level raises questions regardless of ability to ensure or guarantee the supply by the small municipalities. It affects the delicate problem of fiscal decentralization and own limits of decentralization process. In this paper, we deal with problems concerning primarily the development of small municipalities as independent public corporations, their ability to play the self-government role and to ensure the availability of essential public goods and services. The main criteria for defining small rural communities are the population and the status of municipality in the settlement structure, which is a predetermined by range of services provided at territory of municipality (market services, public services) to its citizens and residents of surrounding villages. We deal with problems of financing small communities, their participation in the distribution of revenue from shared taxes, the availability of other resources. We monitor the factors that enter into models of reallocation of public resources. We base their findings mot only on information from literature, but also from terrain research, which not only confirmed some previously published facts, but allowed to reveal the factors that significantly affect the financial situation of small municipalities. This led to the determination of parameters, the key mechanism for setting the allocation of public resources. On the basis of the investigation, we analyze the parameters, the key mechanism for setting the allocation of public resources. In conclusion, the authors summarize the main issues and articulate the principles that should be respected in the formulation and adjustment of the budget determination.
 
Article
The paper attempts to deal with the problem of the demographic situation of rural population in Ukraine during intensive socio-economic transformations (1990-2007). In the time-spatial depiction there were analysed the following elements of the demographic and socio-economic situation of rural population: changes in population number, birth rate, mortality rate and structure, infant mortality rate, fertility rate, population's age and gender structure, natural increase and migration rate, employment level and structure, unemployment rate, level and structure of income and basic household expenditure, poverty rate, level of satisfaction with one's own material situation. It was found that Ukraine has seen a deep demographic crisis resulting from historical and socio-economic factors. It is also a consequence of the steady impediment and falsification of agricultural reforms.
 
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This paper investigates the phenomenon of return migration to rural areas through exploring how different conceptual approaches address issues of population return, and the significance of the rural as a return migration destination. Theories of migration have variously concentrated on economic, social, cultural and political understandings, with migration often thought of in terms of various forms of capital. Theories relating to the rural, in particular those that reflect the influence of globalizing processes, advocate a shift towards understanding it in relational, context-specific terms, implying that individual return migration experiences that are situated within a particular rural context will be complex and distinct. Using empirical evidence from the West of Ireland, this paper reviews some key conceptual approaches to understanding return migration on the one hand, and the impact of a rural context on the other. Drawing from a series of qualitative interviews conducted with return migrants, this paper reveals the complexity of contemporary return migration experiences in rural areas.
 
Categorization of the participants of the Rural Studies Network of Finland (RSN) and the European Rural Development Network (ERDN). The categorization is based on Webropol surveys for ERDN actors (April–May 2009) and for RSN.  
Effects of the Rural Studies Network of Finland (RSN) and the European Rural Development Network (ERDN). Sources: Webropol surveys for ERDN actors (April-May 2009) and for RSN actors (March 2009)
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A comparative analysis of two scientific rural networks was made for this study. The national level case study is the Rural Studies Network of Finland and the international case is the European Rural Development Network. Both networks started in 2002. The focus of this study is on comparing the emergence, diffusion and functioning of these two relatively new networks. The experiences and opinions of individual participants of these networks are highlighted instead of territorial aspects. The paper indicates several differences and similarities between case networks relating to the diffusion processes, social structures, functionality and effectiveness of the networks. Successful emergence of rural expert network is an innovative social networking process, which in ideal case results in to a knowledge society of experts who share some common ideas and goals by exploiting and reproducing their social capital.
 
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The emergence of a particular future landscape, among the numerous potential landscapes, depends on policy options, on prevailing attitudes in society, and on cultural values. This is particularly the case for the countries that have recently joined the European Union-specifically the implementation of new policies has changed the function of the rural countryside significantly. In an empirical illustrative case we discuss the change in values on landscape and the conflicting attitudes to landscape in the society on Saaremaa Island (Estonia) in the 20<sup>th</sup> century. As a background explanation we present the dynamics of the physical landscape and explore the reasons for changes. We then move on to multiple perspectives of how the landscape has been represented in the past as well as today and perceived by different interest groups. Based on that, we finally argue that landscape representations differ from the physical landscape and discuss whether contemporary landscape policy decisions support the actual situation or rather the historical visual imagery.
 
Type of Services offered by Rural Tourism Units, by region (%).
Type of Products offered, by region (%).
Words used to describe the Landscape, by region (%).
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In recent years rural areas, specially the most peripheral and remote ones, have become increasingly perceived and identified as spaces of outstanding environmental quality. This relatively new function of the rural, while widely recognized both socially and institutionally, is to some extent strange to local residents to whom the natural resources and the environmental aspects are mainly perceived from an utilitarian perspective. The exteriority of the measures and policies to preserve rural environment tends to place remote rural areas in a new subaltern position. Correspondingly, the social and institutional construction of rural areas as environmental reserves tends to create a new rural-urban dichotomy which may have important repercussions in terms of the future directions of rural development processes. We aim to discuss the abovementioned aspects, based on empirical evidence from two Portuguese rural areas. We conclude that there are two different visions about the rural — the rural to visit and the rural to live - conveyed respectively by the urban residents and the State and by the local inhabitants.
 
First regional development initiatives and extra-regional partnerships by potential Romanian LAGs since 1999. Source: own survey 2008).
Interest of German and Hungarian LAGs in (further) partnerships with Romanian actors. Source: own survey (2008).
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This paper examines the relevance of networking as an instrument for implementing European rural development policies. The LEADER programme of the European Union (EU) supports partnerships and networking within and between rural regions in the EU and aims at advancing rural, regional socio-economic development. LEADER and the establishment of the European and National Networks for Rural Development, respectively, are discussed using the example of the case of Romania, where these measures are currently implemented. The discussion is primarily based on results of 2008 surveys among various stakeholders involved in LEADER in Romania, Hungary and Germany. We conclude that networking is a key factor for successfully implementing rural development policies. This is due to benefits resulting from the exchange of experiences or partnerships, but also due to social control - a hidden effect of networking.
 
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International labour migration is one of the main challenges in the 21st century for rural areas within Europe. So far, rural areas have not been in the focus of research. The project DERREG, financed by EU FP7, has investigated this phenomenon. Qualitative interviews with international labour migrants have been carried out in the rural border area of Merzig-Wadern, Saarland in the South-West of Germany. The results of these interviews on motivation, working situation, professional experience, family background, social networks, future plans, satisfaction and suggestions of improvements regarding the situation of migrants show heterogeneity, in comparison with urban migrants. However, it can be concluded that the international labour migrants are a benefit to communities in rural areas if they are well integrated.
 
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The paper presents the results of questionnaire surveys, which were conducted among farmers. Surveys were conducted from May to August 2007 in the eastern part of Poland, in Lubelskie voivodeship. This is the voivodeship, where an agriculture plays significant role in comparison with other regions of the country. Additionally, the lowest support to integration with European Union was noticed in the public referendum. However, according to the questionnaire surveys, the farmers gave bigger support for ratification the Treaty. The results of research answers the question how farmers in Lubelskie voivodeship perceive the European Union 3 years after the access. In addition, we could indicate, which factors cause increase and which one cause decrease in the support for the European Union.
 
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At the end of the 20<sup>th</sup> century, following the collapse of centralised planned economy of the Soviet Union, the disintegration of collective type of agriculture and the restoration of lands to their pre-war owners, Latvia experienced widespread abandonment of agricultural lands and their gradual re-colonisation by woodland. It has been assumed that following the accession by Latvia to the European Union in 2004 and the incorporation of the agricultural system into the Common Agricultural Policy would stop or reverse the process of land abandonment. The conclusion from examining five geographically diverse rural municipalities is that so far the single area payments have had little effect on hilly mosaic type landscape structure, or on the process of land abandonment.
 
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After reviewing some of the most important features of Hungarian rural development, the paper attempts to explore participation and roles of non-profit organisations in this field, through the lenses of the LEADER+ Programme. As a study area, one of the seven development regions of Hungary, the Southern Transdanubian Region was selected for the analysis. On the basis of the results and the reviewed literature, the author gets to the conclusion that rural non-profit organisations have an important role to play in animating and mobilizing rural population
 
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Given that migration studies mostly focus on rural-urban migration, the explanatory power of theoretic models is questioned for rural immigration. This paper aims at presenting results from a series of qualitative interviews with international migrants in the small rural town of Zittau and its surrounding villages in Eastern Saxony. It is suggested that the study of contrary flows of urban-rural migration needs specific models to better capture the migrants' motivations and situations in a rural context. Rationales to move to rural places as well as the everyday life in the hosting rural community differ strongly from patterns in the urban settings. Thus the central question is how both the migrants as well as the rural communities might benefit from rural immigration.
 
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Depopulation is a well-known phenomenon in peripheral rural regions. The most identified problems are based on structural weaknesses in terms of decreasing business activities and a lack of public infrastructure. In such regions population is mainly older causing major changes in social infrastructure. For instance many schools and kindergartens close down for lack of demand, which hinders young families to migrate to such regions. The result is typically a negative cumulative process of loss of population, loss of jobs, loss of infrastructure, further outmigration. It is an enormous challenge for such regions to overcome this vicious circle. Regional identity can be seen as an important factor to overcome such structural weaknesses. The paper will discuss the concept of regional identity in order to define the term and how it is embedded in regional development theory. The empirical analysis is presenting results focusing on regional identity coming out of a qualitative data analysis and a postal survey. We designed a regional identity index, which measures the intensity of personal and social relationships of both in-migrants and out-migrants.
 
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Regional learning and innovation is a key to promote more resilient, robust and inclusive rural areas. Current analytical frameworks focus on support for knowledge spill-over from academia to industry and sector-oriented learning. The high diversity of actors and activities contributing to rural regional development is thereby not addressed. In this paper, existing frameworks are revised to offer an integrated perspective on the support for rural regional learning. The revised framework is used to identify, map and analyse supportive arrangements and their operational interfaces. It also offers an analytical perspective for beneficiaries to evaluate the support received. The DERREG case study area Westerkwartier is used to illustrate the use of the revised framework and its relevance for empirical research. The revised framework can be used to compare supportive arrangements for learning across different rural regions.
 
Top-cited authors
Vaishar Antonín
  • Mendel University in Brno
John Mcdonagh
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
Jana Zapletalova
  • Institute of Geonics AS CR
Svante Karlsson
  • Karlstads Universitet
Marie Mahon
  • National University of Ireland, Galway