European rural landscapes in transition: implications for policy and planning

Teresa Pinto Correia, IICAAM (Instituto Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas) – Universidade de Évora,

Bas Pedroli, Wageningen University,

Jorgen Primdahl, University of Copenhagen,


The European continent is highly diverse with rich natural and cultural histories and the rural landscapes reflect this diversity. It is to a large extent the variety and heterogeneity, both at regional and local scales, which characterize the European landscapes. The symposium will focus on the transitions going on in agriculture, forestry and other uses, which now shape the European rural landscapes. Following, it will also focus on the development of new management paradigms, increasingly designed at the landscape scale and involving multiple actors. 


European rural landscapes as we can experience them today are the result of ongoing processes and interactions between nature and society.  Gradually every single local landscape has been more and more affected by changes caused by increasingly more globalized change factors. In the future we can foresee that everything will be different: the landscape which has been so far produced as an externality of agricultural land use (including forestry), is increasingly an object of other societal demands, which influence both agriculture, farmers, land owners, and the landscape directly.  Further, through globalization, the landscape has increasingly been connected to other local landscapes and therefore has become part of a global space of flows. Agricultural structural change, in one side, and urbanization, as an overall process of consumption of the rural space, on the other, are the two most important processes affecting European rural landscapes.  An increasing differentiation will take place, between pure agricultural spaces in its strict sense - governed by economic incentives and global food policy – and multifunctional rural areas in a wider sense, where farming is less competitive but where farmers and the involved communities, increasingly diverse,  take responsibilities for the landscape as a common good, with increasing interaction.


This symposium will gather researchers working with changing European rural landscapes, how they  can be understood in terms of functions and structure, how they are represented and given meaning to by people and how they are subjects to conflicts and home of social communities or shaped by economic activities. Approaches to unfold the processes going on, so that so far un-seen processes are disentangled, are welcome.  Research on the changing role of agriculture, and how the sector is losing its position in the shaping of the rural, and therefore also part of its societal legitimacy, is also welcome. Further, we aim to address how new place based paradigms are needed, for consciously coming to terms with the rich inherited diversity of European landscapes, in new ways of interaction, and propose models for this change to be implemented in practice. 

What can participants expect to learn?

New insights into the processes of change affecting the rural landscapes, the main drivers and their interplay,  which are generalised across Europe –  and also across other regions of the world. These will be grounded on a discussion of evidence, and also on a discussion of methodological approaches that can tackle the on-going change in its complexity.

Conceptual frameworks and empirical knowledge on place based landscape management integrating the rural community.


Different possible publications and dissemination – to be discussed among participants.