Knowledge Platform

Introduction: Regional Context

The regional context plays a major role on both processes, the mechanisms of policy implementation and the socio-economic valorisation. They have a strong territorial base, due to the regional scope of landscape policies and the benefits derived from the natural capital for regional welfare and competitiveness. This has been substantiated based on a multitude of empirical studies in different regions. Those provided evidence that landscape policy implementation and the endowment of the natural capital created with it for rural development occur in different ways in different regional settings.

Regional framework conditions include (i) the bio-physical characteristics of the region, such as the given geography, nature and landscape; (ii) the socio-economic situation , such as the level of income and gross domestic product, population density and development or urban proximity as well as (iii) institutional situation, referring to the existence of institutions and civil society or the local administrative and regulatory framework (e.g. political support, initiatives, etc.) (see Figure 1 below).

Regional context
Figure 1. Regional context.

Influence on Landscape policy implementation

The regional context affects policy implementation in different ways: through area designation (mainly of regulatory instruments, such as nature conservation) and spatial eligibility and targeting (of market intervention policies, such as the European Common Agricultural Policy). On the other hand, the policy implementation is influenced by (mainly natural) regional conditions, as interest and motivation to participate for instance in the voluntary landscape policy schemes differ for land managers depending on the natural circumstances (e.g. favourite/fertile, less-favourite/fertile areas).

Landscape policies can take different spatial effect, covering horizontal policies which are not site specific at all, like good management practices to more site-specific policy and planning measures either based on European and national legislation or based on regional/local site designations (planning zones, environmental compensation areas, etc.). Through the overall European (FFH and WFD) directives, national (such as ecological and habitat networks), regional (greenways, etc.) specific (ecologically important) sites are predefined to set legal regulations and economic incentives for environmental and landscape management schemes.

Additionally, the farm location represents an important driver for landscape policy implementation. Agricultural supports schemes are influencing the landscape management, such as for less favoured areas (LFA) are only eligible in clearly defined locations. Organic farming as extensive production, particularly in livestock farming, tends to prevail in locations of less productive and low fertile conditions, such as mountainous areas or areas with low soil fertility.

Influence on socio-economic valorisation of landscape

The ability of how the managed landscape is valorised for regional competitiveness and welfare strongly depends on the regional bio-physical framework conditions. For instance, regions which are characterised by a high degree of natural amenities (theoretically without agricultural landscape management), i.e. through relief energy (mountains), water courses or forests will attract more visitors than comparable regions without. But also the proximity to urban areas (here referred to as socio-economic situation) with its concentration of potential consumers for regional products, day-trip tourism, etc. plays a major role for the endowment related to landscape management. On the other hand, the effectiveness of landscape management measure to contribute to socio-economic benefits in places of low degrees of natural capital endowment is questioned. Last but not least the institutional background, the effects of civil society, intermediate actors and networks for regional governance and strategy making are of immense relevance to unlock the potential for socio-economic valorisation.

Further reading

Copus, A., Dax, T., 2010. Conceptual Background and Priorities of European Rural Development Policy. Deliverable Report 1.2 of the FP7 Project Rural Development Impacts (RuDI).

Shucksmith, M., Thomson, K.J., Roberts, D., 2005. The CAP and the Regions: the Territorial Impact of the Common Agricultural Policy. CABI Publishing, Wallingford.

van Berkel, D.B., Verburg, P.H., 2010. Sensitising rural policy: Assessing spatial variation in rural development options for Europe. Land Use Policy 28: 447-459.

Zasada, I., Reutter, M., Piorr, A., Lefebvre, M., Gomez y Paloma, S. (in press). Between Asset Investments and Capacity Building - Development and Application of a novel Conceptual Framework to Analyse the Design of Rural Development Policy in EU Regions. Land Use Policy.