Main research question/goal
The rural area in Flanders is undergoing many changes under influence by all the different users of the rural landscape. These changes affect the landscape and the way in which the landscape can fulfil its functions. Hence, governments must, together with the different users of the countryside, seek for mechanisms and conditions that can steer the changes in the landscape into a positive direction. The region around Voeren is a typical cultural landscape in Flanders, where this phenomenon is very visible and pertinent. This project aims to investigate the drivers of landscape changes. Further, it will use participatory design method to identify new governance mechanisms, such as new forms of cooperation between users of the countryside to implement the vision for a quality landscape. Research approach
First, an analysis is performed of the historic and recent changes in the rural area in Voeren, through a wide variety of research methods. This analysis entails both an quantitative assessment of recent landscape change and an analysis of its drivers. Second, participatory design processes are set up, using the knowledge produced in the first step, to identify potential governance mechanisms that can implement the vision of a quality landscape. Relevance/Valorisation
The results will enable governments and local users of the countryside to steer landscape change into a more desired direction. The countryside in the whole of Flanders is subject to such changes, often inducing conflicts and changes in the function that the rural area can fulfil. This project will contribute to a better understanding of these changes and will identify ways in which governments can deal with them.