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Patterns and drivers of farm-level land use change in selected European rural landscapes
- Kristensen, Søren Bech Pilgaard, Busck, Anne Gravsholt, van der Sluis, Theo, Gaube, Veronika
- Land use policy 2016 v.57 pp. 786-799
- decision making, farm size, farms, grasslands, land use change, landowners, landscapes, livestock, multivariate analysis, ownership, public services and goods, questionnaires, rural areas, socioeconomics, surveys, Europe
- Many of the semi-natural landscape elements found in rural areas, such as woodlots, hedgerows and grasslands, were originally maintained as part of the agricultural system. During the 20th century, they lost most of their functions and were often removed or transformed. Presently, production concerns are less dominant and many landscape and land use changes are undertaken to improve public goods or fulfil personal and family ambitions and values. This paper investigates the patterns of farm-level land use changes that occurred between 2002 and 2012 in three different landscape regions of Europe (peri-urban landscapes, areas with marginal potential for agriculture, post-socialist landscapes) and the drivers behind, based on a questionnaire survey in six study areas. A second objective is to analyse landowners’ decision-making and endogenous factors that are correlated with their engagement in land use changes. Common to all areas is that agricultural production is under pressure due to physical or socio-economic challenges. The results indicate that relatively more nature or landscape features have been added by landowners than removed by them in the six study areas. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that full-time landowners were responsible for the largest proportion of landscape change and that the areas involved differed greatly. The analysis also underlined the variety of European landscapes, as many landscape activities exhibited strong geographical patterns. A multivariate analysis of the relationship between ten farm and landowner characteristics confirmed the geographical diversity, as only a dummy variable representing the geographical location was statistically significant. When location was omitted from the analysis, two factors were significant: farm size and ownership of livestock. In addition, the results suggest that landowners in peri-urban locations were more engaged in landscape activities than landowners in other locations.