Pasture for Horses: An Underestimated Land Use Class in an Urbanized and Multifunctional Area.

Kirsten Bomans, Valerie Dewaelheyns, Hubert Gulinck

    Research output: Contribution to journalA2: International peer reviewed article (not A1-type)peer-review


    spatial importance of horses in the open space was already mentioned by different authors, but never quantifi ed
    before. In many countries, including Belgium, statistics on horses are only partly covered by agricultural data.
    As a consequence, the amount of space in use for horses, especially hobby horses, is largely unknown but may
    encompass a signifi cant area of the open space. Especially within the context of an increasing urbanization and
    growing demands on the remaining rural area, this evolution must not be neglected. A reliable quantifi cation
    of the space used by horses is therefore essential and is given in this research for the case study Flanders.
    According to the results of fi eldwork, about one-third of the pasture land in Flanders is used to keep horses.
    A qualitative analysis showed a higher horse density within the more urbanized areas with a fragmented agricultural
    area and a quantitative analysis showed negative associations between the presence of horses and (i)
    the distance to gardens, (ii) the parcel area and (iii) the distance to forest. Moreover, an internet survey assessed
    evolutions and motivations of horse owners to keep horses. The survey resulted in clear data on the fact that
    the number of horses is increasing. This is mainly motivated by recreational purposes. The majority of horsekeepers
    do not consider themselves to be part of the agricultural sector. These results, showing an intensifi ed
    competition for land between stakeholders in the open space of urbanized regions put new challenges for sustainable
    land use planning. The major challenges are (i) to avoid increasing functional and spatial fragmentation
    of rural landscapes, (ii) to assure enough space for societal necessity urgencies such as food or energy selfeffi
    ciency, (iii) to increase positive interactions of horse keeping with other sectors such as agriculture, nature
    conservation and others and (iv) to develop a proper visual and cultural landscape strategy, helping in setting
    up guidelines for fencing and other infrastructural elements that do not deteriorate the landscape character.
    Keywords: internet survey, Land use, land use change, multifunctionality, pasture for horses, urban areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)195–211
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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