Special Issue "Sustainable Rural Development: Strategies, Good Practices, and Opportunities Ⅱ"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 22 December 2022 | Viewed by 20932

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ana Nieto Masot
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Art and Territorial Sciences, University of Extremadura, 10071 Cáceres, Spain
Interests: human geography; rural development; demography; geographic information systems
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. José Luis Gurría Gascón
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Human Geography, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Extremadura, 10071 Cáceres, Spain
Interests: human geography; rural development; demography
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent decades, rural areas a global scale have suffered severe demographic losses and are tending to depopulate as a result of a process of structural ageing and emigratory movements (rural–urban) that result in large losses of young populations and increasingly regressive demographic dynamics. In some territories, this has led to the abandonment of numerous villages and the proliferation of territories without economic activities with serious socio-economic and environmental results.

In 2020, a Special Issue entitled "Sustainable Rural Development: Strategies, Good Practices and Opportunities" was launched, in which 16 papers were published. The aim of this monograph was to study this problem with contributions in which different initiatives or projects are presented to reduce the demographic, economic and social imbalances between rural and urban areas. On the other hand, some studies highlighted the weaknesses that certain projects and programmes are having in achieving the same objectives. The papers presented were very diverse and provided cases in a wide variety of territories across European, American and Asian. The different strategies presented focused on achieving rural development through the promotion of activities complementary to agriculture, such as rural tourism, the revaluation of natural heritage, the promotion of agroecological products, the industrial promotion of rural areas, the introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Internet to improve their communications and teleworking, the design of sustainable housing for youngers and new settlers, etc.

These were different approaches that allowed us to contribute, from scientific, holistic and multidisciplinary knowledge, new strategies that can help public policy managers with decision making and in equitable planning and management strategies. For this reason, we are launching a second edition of this Special Issue for other initiatives or projects to be submitted that are being carried out. We encourage authors to submit contributions in the following priority areas to this Special Issue of Land:

  • Approaches and models of rural development and their evolution in the world, e.g., European policies and rural development programs and rural development strategies;
  • Integrated forms of urban–rural planning and multilevel governance, e.g., urban partnerships and the role of the city in the development and stability of the rural population;
  • The diversification of activities, employment, and income: agribusiness integration, heritage, and tourism as the basis of rural competitiveness, e.g., occupational transformation and new social actors, innovation and new technologies, value chains and productive networks, rural–urban co-working and networking, and intelligent, inclusive, and sustainable territories;
  • Mobility and new rural dynamics;
  • Depopulation and strategies for the demographic challenge in rural areas;
  • The insertion of SDG 2030 in rural development: the green circular economy.

Prof. Dr. Ana Nieto Masot
Dr. José Luis Gurría Gascón
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable rural development
  • strategies against depopulation
  • rural–urban partnerships
  • rural development programs and strategies
  • diversification of economic activities
  • Sustainable Development Goal 2030

Published Papers (23 papers)

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Article
Tackling Comprehensive Evaluation of Tourism Community Resilience: A Probabilistic Hesitant Linguistic Group Decision Making Approach
Land 2022, 11(10), 1652; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11101652 - 25 Sep 2022
Viewed by 464
Abstract
Community-based tourism (CBT) has been adopted as an effective and practical solution to land use policies by governments that simultaneously pursue upgrading of local economy, conservation of local ecosystem and development of local communities. Confronting with new normality of detrimental eventualities in situated [...] Read more.
Community-based tourism (CBT) has been adopted as an effective and practical solution to land use policies by governments that simultaneously pursue upgrading of local economy, conservation of local ecosystem and development of local communities. Confronting with new normality of detrimental eventualities in situated environments, destination management organizations (DMOs) or local governments have to employ effective governance strategies for fostering tourism community resilience in order to sustain development of CBT destinations. In viewing of that facilitating development through evaluation usually manifests as an efficient strategy in governance practices, this paper contributes to fill two main gaps in tackling comprehensive evaluation of tourism community resilience. Firstly, by noticing the fact that current literature overlooks processual characteristics of tourism community resilience, which originate from integration of disaster management and destination management (DM2), we have developed an analytical framework comprised of six attributes for comprehensively evaluating tourism community resilience. Secondly, aiming at the phenomena that cognitive assessments on attributes of tourism community resilience often exhibit complicate uncertainties caused by low-structured or ill-structured problem nature, we have put forward a powerful expression tool of probabilistic dual hesitant fuzzy uncertain unbalanced linguistic set (PDHF_UUBLS) to simultaneously capture evaluators’ cognitive characteristics of decision hesitancy, bipolar epistemic notions and relative importance among assessments. Then by formalizing comprehensive evaluation of tourism community resilience as a multiple attributes decision making process, we construct an effective multiple attributes group decision making (MAGDM) approach with assessments in the form of PDHF_UUBLS. Theoretical analyses verify the effectiveness of our constructed MAGDM approach and also show the approach avoids potential information distortion in comparison with other approaches. Overall, this paper provides effective and pertinent solutions, with both analytical framework and methodology, to the urgent task of comprehensive evaluation of tourism community resilience in DM2 agenda, thereby is of apparent significance in governance practice of CBT. Full article
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Article
Visual Impact Assessment in Rural Areas: The Role of Vegetation Screening in the Sustainable Integration of Isolated Buildings
Land 2022, 11(9), 1450; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11091450 - 01 Sep 2022
Viewed by 407
Abstract
Rural tourism has led to an increase in the number of buildings, meaning that visual integration of these buildings into the landscape is not always achieved. The silhouettes of buildings in rural areas are always recognisably simple but can be visually discordant if [...] Read more.
Rural tourism has led to an increase in the number of buildings, meaning that visual integration of these buildings into the landscape is not always achieved. The silhouettes of buildings in rural areas are always recognisably simple but can be visually discordant if their sharpness is high. The literature provides analyses of how the visual impact of a given construction can be minimised by vegetation screening. The main objective of this study was to propose a method of quantifying the visual impact of isolated buildings (1 (low visual impact)–5 (high visual impact)). The method combines a measurement of the sharpness of building silhouette lines and vegetation screening (Scr) percentage (high or low) using theories based on the cognitive aspects of visual perception and digital image processing. The method was validated through a survey in which photos were shown to a wide range of respondents. A second objective was to analyse the combined effect on the visual perception of Scr and building colour (C), which is broadly analysed in the literature. The main result is that the required percentage of vegetation screening for a building with sharp lines and discordant colours to be accepted was determined to be around 40%. The proposed method can be applied by landscape planners; it is easy to use, and the cognitive principles on which it is based do not depend on the working environment. Full article
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Article
Mapping the Optimal Rural Areas to Invest in through the LEADER Approach: Case Study—Extremadura (SW Spain)
Land 2022, 11(8), 1191; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11081191 - 29 Jul 2022
Viewed by 479
Abstract
For more than 30 years, the LEADER approach has been a key tool in the endogenous, local, participatory, and sustainable development of the most disadvantaged European rural areas in demographic and socioeconomic terms. However, despite the unquestionable labor of the rural development policy [...] Read more.
For more than 30 years, the LEADER approach has been a key tool in the endogenous, local, participatory, and sustainable development of the most disadvantaged European rural areas in demographic and socioeconomic terms. However, despite the unquestionable labor of the rural development policy and the local action groups, various authors, both at a European level and at a national level, in Spain, have concluded that the majority of investments and the greater number of projects through LEADER have been concentrated in the most populated and most developed rural areas. For this reason, there is positive discrimination toward them in the management of aid for rural development. Knowing this and according to the objectives pursued by LEADER, the aim of this work is to analyze the situation in Extremadura (Spain), which has been a beneficiary from the beginning, building an optimal location model for rural development aid. Thus, it will be possible to determine the most convenient, optimal, or priority municipalities to receive aid for rural development due to characteristics such as a smaller population, low demographic growth, low birth rate, high mortality rate, high aging population, low productivity index, high unemployment rates, low accessibility to urban centers, and low LEADER investments in recent years. Full article
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Article
Challenges for Social Participation in Conservation in the Biocultural Landscape Area in the Western Sierra of Jalisco
Land 2022, 11(8), 1169; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11081169 - 27 Jul 2022
Viewed by 460
Abstract
The protection of biocultural heritage has generated alternative proposals for the conservation of rural areas. Varied organizations collaborate in a pioneering conservation model, the Biocultural Landscape (BL), where local participation is paramount, that operates in the Western Sierra of Jalisco. The objective of [...] Read more.
The protection of biocultural heritage has generated alternative proposals for the conservation of rural areas. Varied organizations collaborate in a pioneering conservation model, the Biocultural Landscape (BL), where local participation is paramount, that operates in the Western Sierra of Jalisco. The objective of this work was to analyze social participation, conditions, and characteristics of the model based on the WWF and IUCN guidelines. Information about the context, management, and planning was collected and synthesized. The data of territorial management, conservation, knowledge, and local conflicts about participatory processes were collected from 12 stakeholders and analyzed with ATLAS.ti software. It was found that, although local people are familiar with the concept of the protected natural area and the BL model, they cannot clearly identify its objective. The most informed are the interested population that collaborates closely. There are conflicts of interest between those who collaborate directly with the BL and those who do not, which have been resolved through the active participation of the different levels of government and experts who have intervened as mediators. Environmental awareness about the importance of conservation has been achieved by integrating the communities. Given that it is not a restrictive protection model and the rules were created in conjunction with the community, local participation is encouraged. Full article
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Article
Protected Natural Spaces, Agrarian Specialization and the Survival of Rural Territories: The Cases of Sierra Nevada (Spain) and Alta Murgia (Italy)
Land 2022, 11(8), 1166; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11081166 - 27 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 450
Abstract
In Europe today, there is increasing interest in the management of protected spaces, not only in an attempt to ensure their conservation but also because of their enormous potential for promoting rural development. These protected spaces are generally designed from the top down, [...] Read more.
In Europe today, there is increasing interest in the management of protected spaces, not only in an attempt to ensure their conservation but also because of their enormous potential for promoting rural development. These protected spaces are generally designed from the top down, although, in an increasing number of cases, they are being promoted by rural communities themselves. The situation across Europe with regard to protected areas is extraordinarily complex due, among other reasons, to the variety of categories and types of protected areas at the regional level. The objective of this study was to compare two parks: the Sierra Nevada National and Natural Park in Andalusia, Spain, and the Alta Murgia National Park in Apulia, Italy, in order to identify any similarities and/or differences between them. To this end, we performed a dynamic analysis of the evolution of the crops, uses, and livestock species using a specific indicator that can detect local dynamics by comparing areas inside the parks with those in the immediate surrounding areas. The results pointed, in part, to a resurgence of these places. In both cases, a trend was observed towards more extensive farming of certain crops and livestock species that are more profitable and/or more highly regarded as quality products. In other cases, there was a risk of traditional crops and agricultural landscapes being abandoned and lost. Various threats were identified in relation to capital-intensive forms of agriculture, especially involving greenhouse cultivation on the Mediterranean coast in the provinces of Granada and Almeria. Full article
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Article
The Causal Pathway of Rural Human Settlement, Livelihood Capital, and Agricultural Land Transfer Decision-Making: Is It Regional Consistency?
Land 2022, 11(7), 1077; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11071077 - 14 Jul 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 515
Abstract
Despite the increasing interest in understanding the mechanism of household livelihood decisions to increase household livelihood welfare, the combined role of livelihood capitals and human settlements in livelihood decisions is unclear. Therefore, in this paper we carried out extensive empirical research to explore [...] Read more.
Despite the increasing interest in understanding the mechanism of household livelihood decisions to increase household livelihood welfare, the combined role of livelihood capitals and human settlements in livelihood decisions is unclear. Therefore, in this paper we carried out extensive empirical research to explore the causal pathway between human settlements (including infrastructure, public services, and social governance) and livelihood capitals (including human, natural, physical, financial, and social capitals) on agricultural land transfer, taking employment choices as an intermediary factor. On this basis, this study analyzed the regional differences in the decision-making mechanisms of agricultural land transfer behaviors in eastern, central, and western regions of China through a multi-group structural equation model. The results demonstrated that capital accumulation can directly increase the possibility of agricultural land inflow (β = 0.130, p < 0.01), but can indirectly reduce the dependence on agricultural land by stimulating non-agricultural employment (β = −0.613, p < 0.01). The improvement in human settlement promotes the agricultural land inflow (outside the western region) and indirectly enhances the willingness to enter into agriculture. The employment choices play a significant mediating role by strengthening the livelihood capitals and weakening human settlements. To achieve the intense agricultural development and sustainable development of rural areas, the improvement of both rural human settlements and household livelihood capitals should be considered. Full article
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Article
Spatial Distribution and Driving Forces of the Vegetable Industry in China
Land 2022, 11(7), 981; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11070981 - 28 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 492
Abstract
Based on the ArcGIS geostatistical analysis method, this study offers a visualization of the spatial distribution pattern and spatial trend of vegetable production in China. The research also examines the degree of spatial agglomeration patterns of vegetable production by using the standard deviation [...] Read more.
Based on the ArcGIS geostatistical analysis method, this study offers a visualization of the spatial distribution pattern and spatial trend of vegetable production in China. The research also examines the degree of spatial agglomeration patterns of vegetable production by using the standard deviation ellipse technique and exploratory spatial data analysis method. In addition, we employ the spatial regression model partial differential method to explore the driving factors leading to the changing layout of vegetable production. The findings unveil that vegetable production in China exhibit strong spatial non-equilibrium characteristics, with “high-high” and “low-low” types as the main agglomeration patterns. Furthermore, the location distribution shows a northeast–southwest orientation with the center of gravity of distribution gradually directed toward the southwest. Regarding driving factors, the results show that the effective irrigated area of natural factors had a facilitating effect on the layout of vegetable production, while the affected area had an inhibiting effect on it. Climate indicators such as temperature, precipitation and light show different degrees of influence on the layout of vegetable production. The level of urbanization and transportation conditions have a negative impact on the layout of production in the region. Market demand has a positive spillover effect on the layout of local vegetable production, while it has a negative spillover effect on other regions. Technological progress shows positive spillover effects on the layout of vegetable production in the region and other regions. Financial support policy also shows positive effects from an overall perspective. Full article
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Article
The Role of Actors in Social Innovation in Rural Areas
by
Land 2022, 11(5), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11050710 - 09 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
Social innovation is gaining momentum in academia, policy and practice, as a process by which local communities generate new social relations and become more capable of addressing social needs and opportunities. However, there is significant ambiguity about the role of the different types [...] Read more.
Social innovation is gaining momentum in academia, policy and practice, as a process by which local communities generate new social relations and become more capable of addressing social needs and opportunities. However, there is significant ambiguity about the role of the different types of actors involved in social innovation, particularly in rural areas. This article aims to examine which actors make social innovation in rural areas possible, and the roles they play in these processes. Drawing on 33 interviews carried out with key informants of three socially innovative initiatives developed in rural areas of Spain and Scotland, this paper illustrates the scale, role and logic of the actors involved. The findings of the study clarify the central role of local processes and local actors, the impact of facilitators and perceived neutrality. They also show the contribution of social economy organizations as an arena for coordinating plural networks and civil society initiatives. The way the public sector and LEADER participate in social innovation processes in rural areas are also reflected in the results. Full article
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Article
Protected Areas and Rural Depopulation in Spain: A Multi-Stakeholder Perceptual Study
Land 2022, 11(3), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11030384 - 05 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 545
Abstract
Protected areas (PAs) are thought by some to contribute to local wellbeing and socioeconomic development, whereas for others PAs remain a regulatory burden that hampers rural development. Here, we sought to ascertain the perceived causes of rural depopulation and the potential impact of [...] Read more.
Protected areas (PAs) are thought by some to contribute to local wellbeing and socioeconomic development, whereas for others PAs remain a regulatory burden that hampers rural development. Here, we sought to ascertain the perceived causes of rural depopulation and the potential impact of four Natura 2000 sites on the wellbeing and depopulation figures of four protected rural municipalities in Spain that were selected as extreme case studies. We used phone surveys to elicit experts’ views (n = 19) on the topic and convened eight in-person workshops to garner local residents’ insights (n = 40) using structured questionnaires. We complemented perceived wellbeing data from PAs with surveys to residents in neighbouring unprotected municipalities (n = 28). Both experts and workshops’ attendees from protected municipalities overwhelmingly attributed depopulation figures to structural causes linked to transport accessibility, basic service provision and the existence of job opportunities, which they perceived to be unrelated to the PAs’ regulations or management. Local residents did generally not perceive any impact on their collective or individual wellbeing from those PAs, and most who did, expressed a negative impact chiefly due to socioeconomic restrictions. Four-fifths of the experts and half of the workshops’ attendees from protected municipalities, however, expressed that PAs’ administrations could help improve depopulation figures in their towns mainly through promoting tourism and greater compatibility of land uses, including housing and infrastructure development. While the assessed Natura 2000 sites certainly have scope for tourism promotion, their lenient legal regimes make it largely unfeasible to broaden land use compatibility without damaging protected features. Full article
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Article
Location of Coworking Spaces (CWSs) Regarding Vicinity, Land Use and Points of Interest (POIs)
Land 2022, 11(3), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11030354 - 27 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1046
Abstract
Background: The place of work is, besides the place of residence, a main travel destination in the course of the day for working people, who make up the majority of western European societies. Other daily destinations, such as those for childcare, social activities, [...] Read more.
Background: The place of work is, besides the place of residence, a main travel destination in the course of the day for working people, who make up the majority of western European societies. Other daily destinations, such as those for childcare, social activities, and buying groceries, are spatially related to both of these. This article aims to detect if and how the character of the neighbourhood and the associated land use is related to the location of coworking spaces. Specifically, we investigate the spatial relation between coworking spaces (CWSs) in peripheral and non-peripheral regions to specific points of interest (POIs). These POIs could be daily destinations relevant for a common lifestyle of working people. The data rely on identifying the location of CWSs (peripheral/non-peripheral, land use) in Germany and relating the location of CWSs to the location of POIs using georeferenced data. The results show an accumulation of CWSs and POIs in non-peripheral regions and residential areas and a higher number of specific POIs in their vicinity. From these results, we infer that a relatively higher number of specific POIs in the vicinity of CWSs makes it more likely to use this service and thus provides specific advantages to users of CWSs. If work is performed in a CWS close to the place of residence, other daily destinations could be reached in a short time and the spending capacity could remain in the local economy. The quality of life could increase, and the commute is shrinking with effects on traffic, carbon emission, and work–life balance. Further research could investigate whether this also occurs in an international context, and could focus on developing social-spatial models, by making of use remote sensing. In this way, one could measure the impact on public space and on the neighbourhood of CWSs more quantitatively. Full article
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Article
Nature-Based Solutions Benefit the Economic–Ecological Coordination of Pastoral Areas: An Outstanding Herdsman’s Experience in Xilin Gol, China
Land 2022, 11(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010107 - 09 Jan 2022
Viewed by 535
Abstract
Grassland has always had a difficult economic–ecological relationship, as coordination between its ecological conservation and the sustainable development of animal husbandry is required. Nature-based Solutions (NbS), who make full use of the natural ecosystem services, have successfully solved some economic–ecological issues, but still [...] Read more.
Grassland has always had a difficult economic–ecological relationship, as coordination between its ecological conservation and the sustainable development of animal husbandry is required. Nature-based Solutions (NbS), who make full use of the natural ecosystem services, have successfully solved some economic–ecological issues, but still have unclear implementation prospects for grassland management. The Xilin Gol grassland is one of the most typical pastoral areas in China; there is a village chief named Bateer, who has already used NbS for grassland management. To confirm whether the solutions employed by Bateer have been effective for both increasing economic profits and protecting grassland ecosystem, we interviewed him, and many other herdsmen, using questionnaires about their livelihood. Based on these questionnaires, we calculated and compared their income–cost ratios. Meanwhile, we analyzed the NDVI variations inside their rangelands through high-resolution remote sensing images. The results showed that the herdsmen in Bateer’s village had a much higher disposable income and income–cost ratio than others, and their rangelands also had a higher value and a more obvious increasing trend of NDVI. Bateer’s success proves that the NbS can also play a positive role in grassland management, which can provide a valuable guidance for economic–ecological coordination in pastoral areas. Full article
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Article
How Do Network Embeddedness and Environmental Awareness Affect Farmers’ Participation in Improving Rural Human Settlements?
Land 2021, 10(10), 1095; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101095 - 16 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 753
Abstract
Based on social embeddedness theory, this paper aims to explore the influence mechanism of network embeddedness and environmental awareness on farmers’ participation in improving rural human settlements (IRHS). This research applies the Logit model and the Bootstrap method, using survey data from 495 [...] Read more.
Based on social embeddedness theory, this paper aims to explore the influence mechanism of network embeddedness and environmental awareness on farmers’ participation in improving rural human settlements (IRHS). This research applies the Logit model and the Bootstrap method, using survey data from 495 farmers in Hubei Province, China. The results show that: (1) relational embeddedness has a significant negative impact on the centralized treatment of farmers’ domestic sewage, implying that strengthening the relationship between farmers and households helps to provide them with centralized treatment for domestic sewage; (2) environmental awareness has a significant positive impact on the centralized treatment of farmers’ domestic sewage, implying that the enhancement of farmers’ environmental awareness increases the promotion centralized treatment for domestic sewage; and (3) structural embeddedness can further affects farmers’ environmental awareness and then affects their participation in the centralized treatment of domestic sewage, implying that environmental awareness has a mediating effect between structural embeddedness and the centralized treatment of farmers’ domestic sewage. Overall, it is necessary not only to encourage the establishment of extension and discussion networks for farmers (relational embeddedness) to participate in IRHS but also to improve environmental education for farmers, especially by increasing their access to environmental knowledge and information (environmental awareness in mountainous areas, and, finally to support farmers. The relationship between the members and the village cadres (structural embeddedness) can further improve farmers’ awareness of participation in IRHS to better guide them in the centralized treatment of domestic waste and domestic sewage. Full article
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Article
Territorial Analysis of the Survival of European Aid to Rural Tourism (Leader Method in SW Spain)
Land 2021, 10(10), 1030; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101030 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 706
Abstract
Due to the problems of the European rural environment, the European Union introduced territorial development strategies called the Leader Method (LEADER Initiatives and the now extinct PRODER Operational Programs implemented only in Spanish territory). The objective was to activate the economic development of [...] Read more.
Due to the problems of the European rural environment, the European Union introduced territorial development strategies called the Leader Method (LEADER Initiatives and the now extinct PRODER Operational Programs implemented only in Spanish territory). The objective was to activate the economic development of these areas, to maintain the population and to slow down the migration and aging processes. During the last 25 years, these initiatives have been implemented in European rural areas, and more particularly in Extremadura, establishing new activities such as rural tourism, which has become the economic backbone of many families, complementing agricultural incomes. The development of rural tourism has led to the implementation of accommodation and catering services throughout Extremadura, adapting to the new tourist demands. However, after 25 years, its sustainability has been very different, with contextual variables that have conditioned its success. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the economic sustainability of the tourism offer financed by Leader and the extinct Proder in order to identify the factors that have determined its success in a territory with very diverse characteristics. For this purpose, a methodology based on two statistical analysis techniques (principal component analysis and cluster analysis) has been designed to establish behavioral patterns through the different context variables used. The results obtained have shown that factors such as investment, location, the presence of protected resources and accessibility are determining factors for the survival of the tourism offer. Full article
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Article
Counterbalancing the Development Territorial Disparities in the Implementation of the Community-Led Local Development EU Approach in Romania
Land 2021, 10(9), 970; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090970 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 880
Abstract
LEADER is a rural development method based on a participative approach, which was tailored in 1991 as a complement to the traditional common agricultural policy (CAP) measures. One of its most important objectives is to reduce the differences between rural and urban areas [...] Read more.
LEADER is a rural development method based on a participative approach, which was tailored in 1991 as a complement to the traditional common agricultural policy (CAP) measures. One of its most important objectives is to reduce the differences between rural and urban areas by building on local knowledge and potential. The aim of the present paper is to identify what are the most important characteristics of the LAGs that can counterbalance the existing economic disparities in the rural regions. The research was conducted in the northwest development region of Romania (2014–2020 programming period), using the principal component analysis and the hierarchical cluster analysis. Two types of data were collected: indicators of performance, such as the number of projects contracted and jobs created, were used to assess the success of the method, while the territorial and LAG characteristics were used to explain these results. The findings confirm the presence of an unequal distribution of LEADER support in favor of the most urbanized and developed areas. However, the results also show that the experience and economic and administrative capacity of LAGs could help counterbalance the influence of the territorial features previously mentioned, and therefore to reduce the gap between them and the more developed groups. Full article
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Article
Impact of Grain Subsidy Reform on the Land Use of Smallholder Farms: Evidence from Huang-Huai-Hai Plain in China
Land 2021, 10(9), 929; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090929 - 03 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 850
Abstract
Smallholder farms have played an essential role in agricultural production and food security. In order to increase farm size, the Chinese government announced a reform of the grain subsidy program in 2015. Under the reform, 20% of the aggregate input subsidy, as well [...] Read more.
Smallholder farms have played an essential role in agricultural production and food security. In order to increase farm size, the Chinese government announced a reform of the grain subsidy program in 2015. Under the reform, 20% of the aggregate input subsidy, as well as the pilot subsidy to large-scale farmers and the incremental part of the agricultural support and protection subsidy budget, were used to support increasing farm size. This study evaluated the impact of China’s grain subsidy reform on the land use of smallholder farms to investigate whether the reform achieved its goal. Based on 2063 samples obtained from the 2013–2015 Survey for Agriculture and Village Economy data in Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, we conducted a difference-in-difference model to solve the problem of missing counterfactual states in policy evaluation. Farms from Henan and Shandong were assigned to the treatment group, and farms from Hebei were assigned to the control group. The results revealed that the average treatment effect on the treated of the impact of the grain subsidy reform on the wheat-sown area was −25% (0.10 ha). Furthermore, there was heterogeneity in regard to the subsidy reform effects in different sown-area groups. The reform had the most significant impact on the smallest farmers. We also found that China’s grain subsidy reform had a significant and positive effect on the amount of outflow land area, while the impact of subsidy reform on land tenure was insignificant. Our findings suggest that while encouraging large-scale farms, it is necessary to take into account farmers’ small-scale operations and gradually promote the transformation of small-scale operations to large-scale operations. The Chinese government should strengthen the supervision of land use to achieve the goal of ensuring food security. Full article
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Article
Tourism-Related Facility Development in Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park and Buffer Zone, Nepal Himalaya
Land 2021, 10(9), 925; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090925 - 02 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1214
Abstract
The increase in the number of tourists to mountain regions poses both opportunities and challenges for sustainable mountain development. In order to achieve sustainable development, it is essential to examine societal, landscape, and population transformation in mountain regions. This study explores transformation in [...] Read more.
The increase in the number of tourists to mountain regions poses both opportunities and challenges for sustainable mountain development. In order to achieve sustainable development, it is essential to examine societal, landscape, and population transformation in mountain regions. This study explores transformation in the context of the tourism-related facility in Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone (SNPBZ) of Nepal as an example of the Himalayan region. Questionnaire surveys targeting the owners and managers of tourism-related facilities and interview surveys with various community leaders, officials, and school principals were conducted in the park in 2017–2019. Both surveys show that the types, ownership, distribution, and capacity of facilities in the park have been transformed. Growth of tourist numbers, improvement of porters’ accommodation conditions, and migrant labor are the main factors driving the transformation. Tourism has also induced imbalanced development and unequal benefits among the villages in the park. The findings suggest that diversification of trekking routes and facility and service quality improvement could help to mitigate imbalanced development and unequal benefits. The in-depth examination of the transformation of tourism-related facilities augments the knowledge of the dynamic changes of facilities in mountain regions, which is vital for sustainable mountain development. Full article
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Article
Driving Forces for the Spatial Reconstruction of Rural Settlements in Mountainous Areas Based on Structural Equation Models: A Case Study in Western China
Land 2021, 10(9), 913; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090913 - 29 Aug 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 975
Abstract
Rural settlement development in mountainous areas is the key to eliminating global hunger and poverty. The spatial reconstruction of rural settlements in mountainous areas can promote rural development in mountainous areas. In this study, the Panxi area—a typical mountainous area in China—was chosen [...] Read more.
Rural settlement development in mountainous areas is the key to eliminating global hunger and poverty. The spatial reconstruction of rural settlements in mountainous areas can promote rural development in mountainous areas. In this study, the Panxi area—a typical mountainous area in China—was chosen as the study area. The driving forces for the spatial reconstruction of rural settlements in mountainous areas were explored from the perspective of peasant households by combining participatory rural appraisal (PRA) with structural equation modeling (SEM). Results showed that: (1) 62.03% of the 266 peasant households included were willing to have spatial reconstruction, indicating that most peasant households in mountainous areas have a very strong intention towards the spatial reconstruction of rural settlements. (2) Infrastructure, medical conditions, living environment, farming culture, and dietary habits significantly influenced the reconstruction intention of peasant households. In contrast, development opportunities, place attachment, language, and living mode each had a slight influence. (3) Geological disasters were the main driving force for the spatial reconstruction of rural settlements in mountainous areas, whilst the driving force of living cohesion was the smallest. This study provides insights for future planning and construction of rural settlements in the Panxi area and spatial reconstruction practices. It has important practical significance for overcoming poverty and realizing rural revitalization in mountainous areas. Full article
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Article
Farmland Rental Participation, Agricultural Productivity, and Household Income: Evidence from Rural China
Land 2021, 10(9), 899; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090899 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 850
Abstract
The rural land rental market is playing an increasingly important role in the agricultural transformation period for developing countries, including China, where rural farmland rental is highly context-specific with the implementation of the collective-owned rural land system; thus, in turn, the access to [...] Read more.
The rural land rental market is playing an increasingly important role in the agricultural transformation period for developing countries, including China, where rural farmland rental is highly context-specific with the implementation of the collective-owned rural land system; thus, in turn, the access to farmland rental markets for rural households has profoundly influenced their livelihood strategies and income earnings. This paper investigates the income impact differences caused by rural households’ farmland rental participation activities and explores such impact mechanisms by further evaluating the income impacts caused by rental area and household agricultural productivity. Data from the Chinese national household survey were used for estimating the empirical models. Our results show that farmland renting has positively affected households’ on-farm and total income, but there is no significant effect upon off-farm income. According to income differences across quantiles, we find households with high on-farm income are more sensitive about enlarging their farm size by renting farmland, and households with middle and upper-middle off-income may benefit more from renting out their farmland. Furthermore, the joint effects of renting area and household agricultural productivity on lessee households’ farm income is significantly positive. For lessor households, our results indicate that renting out farmland did not improve their off-farm and total income as it may have a limited effect on farm household labor distribution. Our findings suggest that engaging in farmland rental activity can enhance farming productivity efficiency and poverty alleviation among rural households. Under the collective-owned rural land system, it is urgent and necessary to initiate and design incentive policies to encourage highly efficient large farms to expand the farm size and provide smallholders with equal opportunities to engage in farmland rental activities. Full article
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Article
Calculation of Ecological Compensation Standards for Arable Land Based on the Value Flow of Support Services
Land 2021, 10(7), 719; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070719 - 08 Jul 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1099
Abstract
Food production is the basis for ensuring human survival. Ecological compensation for arable land is important to ensure the sustainable use of arable land and food production. However, how is it possible to set the standard of ecological compensation and how to achieve [...] Read more.
Food production is the basis for ensuring human survival. Ecological compensation for arable land is important to ensure the sustainable use of arable land and food production. However, how is it possible to set the standard of ecological compensation and how to achieve it scientifically? In this paper, we take China as the study area and link the ecological compensation of arable land with the production, circulation and consumption of three staple foods. The amount of food is converted into the area of arable land needed to produce that food. After calculating the value of ecosystem services that support food production on arable land, the ecological compensation standard is obtained, and the realization mode between regions is constructed. The results show that: (1) the flow of staple foods in China is mainly from north to south and the value of arable land support services provided by northern provinces is greater than that of southern provinces; (2) the province that needs to pay the most ecological compensation for cultivated land is Guangdong Province, with an amount of ¥16.082 billion RMB, and the province that receives the most compensation is Heilongjiang Province, with an amount of ¥21.547 billion RMB; (3) in order to coordinate the collection and distribution of ecological compensation in each province, it is necessary to establish an ecological compensation fund for arable land in the central government. Protecting the ecological status of arable land and ensuring sustainable food production is in the overall interest of the country. Full article
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Article
Exploring the Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Development of Specialized Agricultural Villages in the Underdeveloped Region of China
Land 2021, 10(7), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070698 - 02 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 848
Abstract
The development of specialized agricultural villages (DSAVs) is essential for rural revitalization. However, most current studies focus on the formation of specialized agricultural villages (SAVs), while the interpretation of DSAVs from the perspective of the geographical factors is still missing. In this study, [...] Read more.
The development of specialized agricultural villages (DSAVs) is essential for rural revitalization. However, most current studies focus on the formation of specialized agricultural villages (SAVs), while the interpretation of DSAVs from the perspective of the geographical factors is still missing. In this study, we firstly employed the kernel density estimation to analyze the spatial pattern of DSAVs and then utilized the Geographic Detectors to explore which geographical factor(s) affected the SAVs of Henan, China in the formation (in 2010), steady (2011–2014), and rapid development (2015–2019) period of SAVs. The DSAVs were measured by gross product (GP), the employment rate (ER), and farmers’ income (FI) of SAVs. Eleven indicators described the geographic factors in five categories: terrains, resources, locations, markets, and economy. The results showed that the spatial pattern of DSAVs was from relatively uneven in the early formation to significantly clustering in the development period of SAVs. Specialized shiitake and Chinese herbal villages clustered in the mountain–plain transition zone. The aggregation of specialized coarse cereals villages was in the hill–plain transition zone. Specialized fruit and livestock villages gathered in the plain region. Further analyses were in these regions; compared with SAVs’ formation’s critical factors, the importance of terrain and location factors to DSAVs was decreasing, while market and economic factors were increasing in the development period of SAVs. The strongest changing was the development of specialized shiitake villages in the mountain–plain transition zone. These findings could provide guidance for the direction of DSAVs in underdeveloped areas. Full article
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Article
Stakeholders’ Participation in Sustainable Tourism Planning for a Rural Region: Extremadura Case Study (Spain)
Land 2021, 10(6), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060553 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
The objective of this research is to obtain and analyze discursive information on the problems and solutions of the tourism sector in an eminently rural region, such as Extremadura, based on the opinions of stakeholders, in order to incorporate them into the evaluation [...] Read more.
The objective of this research is to obtain and analyze discursive information on the problems and solutions of the tourism sector in an eminently rural region, such as Extremadura, based on the opinions of stakeholders, in order to incorporate them into the evaluation and tourism planning of the region. More specifically, on the situation of the sector, perceptions on profitability and return on investment, the problem of overnight stays, and coordination between tourism agents and training demands, in order to make a sustainable tourism sector in a rural region. The research starts from the following premise: for tourism to be sustainable, stakeholders must participate in the strategic decision-making process. This paper aims, on the one hand, to clarify sufficiently the state of the art regarding the validity of focus groups and their analysis as a research methodology, explaining how to address the main challenges implied by this technique by reviewing a selection of research works that we consider relevant in this field. On the other hand, an analysis of the tourism sector in Extremadura is carried out based on these group dynamics. The main result, after analyzing the discourse of six focus groups, is that the different opinions of their members reveal, despite everything, that the training of human capital in the tourism sector in rural environments is a pending issue. Full article
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Article
China: A New Trajectory Prioritizing Rural Rather Than Urban Development?
Land 2021, 10(5), 514; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050514 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2090
Abstract
The adverse effects of rapid urbanization are of global concern. Careful planning for and accommodation of accelerating urbanization and citizenization (i.e., migrants gaining official urban residency) may be the best approach to limit some of the worst impacts. However, we find that another [...] Read more.
The adverse effects of rapid urbanization are of global concern. Careful planning for and accommodation of accelerating urbanization and citizenization (i.e., migrants gaining official urban residency) may be the best approach to limit some of the worst impacts. However, we find that another trajectory may be possible: one linked to the rural development plan adopted in the latest Chinese national development strategy. This plan aims to build rural areas as attractive areas for settlement by 2050 rather than to further urbanize with more people in cities. We assess the political motivations and challenges behind this choice to develop rural areas based on a literature review and empirical case analysis. After assessing the rural and urban policy subsystem, we find five socio-political drivers behind China’s rural development strategy, namely ensuring food security, promoting culture and heritage, addressing overcapacity, emphasizing environmental protection and eradicating poverty. To develop rural areas, China needs to effectively resolve three dilemmas: (1) implementing decentralized policies under central supervision; (2) deploying limited resources efficiently to achieve targets; and (3) addressing competing narratives in current policies. Involving more rural community voices, adopting multiple forms of local governance, and identifying and mitigating negative project impacts can be the starting points to manage these dilemmas. Full article
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Jump to: Research

Case Report
How Does Maize-Cowpea Intercropping Maximize Land Use and Economic Return? A Field Trial in Bangladesh
Land 2022, 11(4), 581; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11040581 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 689
Abstract
Cultivating multiple crops together can provide numerous benefits, including improved soil health and crop yield. The objective of our study was to determine the optimum planting techniques in intercropping systems, and to maximize their benefits by mitigating competition for resources such as land, [...] Read more.
Cultivating multiple crops together can provide numerous benefits, including improved soil health and crop yield. The objective of our study was to determine the optimum planting techniques in intercropping systems, and to maximize their benefits by mitigating competition for resources such as land, space, light interception, and nutrition. The performance of successively planted maize (Zea mays L.) grown with cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) was evaluated with a field trial in Bangladesh. The treatments in our study were: (a) sole maize, (b) sole cowpea, (c) crops sown simultaneously, and (d) crops sown with different time lags (1, 2, and 3 weeks) between the maize-sowing and cowpea-sowing dates. Data on the crops’ physiological parameters were recorded. These included light interception, leaf area index (LAI), Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD), harvest index, and yield. Simultaneously, canopy coverage was measured using camera-based photo analysis. In addition, an economic analysis of intercropping maize with soybean or cowpea was conducted using gross margin analysis and benefit-cost ratio. In our results, the below-canopy photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was significantly higher in intercropping treatments when maize was sown three weeks after cowpea. In contrast, the LAI value of the maize and cowpea was significantly greater when sown on the same day than in other intercropping treatments. As a result, the maize yield reduced when intercropped with cowpea. This reduction maximized when both species were sown simultaneously due to higher competition for resources, including nutrients and light. Intercropping was more beneficial in terms of land equivalent ratio than both sole cropping of maize and cowpea, especially when maize was planted three weeks later. However, this benefit was not retained when calculated as maize equivalent yield since the contribution of cowpea was small in the overall maize yield, suggesting the importance of the relative economic value of the component species. Among all treatments, the lowest maize equivalent yield (6.03 ± 0.14 t ha−1) was obtained from sole cowpea, and the largest land equivalent ratio (1.67 ± 0.05) was obtained from intercropping with maize sown three weeks after cowpea. This treatment provided a net income of USD 786.32 ± 25.08 ha−1. This study has shown that together, maize–cowpea intercropping with a temporal niche difference of three weeks may be a better option for sustainable crop production in Bangladesh, maximizing land use. However, it may not provide a significantly greater maize equivalent yield and economic return. Full article
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