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When rural planning complexity increases, such as in rural areas with a high urbanisation pressure, decision support tools can assist in determining which agricultural land should be given priority for preservation. Theoretically, traditional land valuation methods can cope with the multiple criteria at stake, but literature reveals a gap between the analytical potential of these methods and their actual use by the various stakeholders. This paper describes the participatory development and use of a new planning decision support tool called Agricultural Land Information System (ALIS) built to support prioritisation of land to be preserved for agriculture. Exploratory research reveals how the intended end users’ participation in ALIS’s development helped to prevent the implementation gap. The process directly and indirectly contributed to the fulfilment of success factors for tool implementation and to the initiation of a multi-tiered learning process. As such, ALIS does not represent a technical breakthrough, but its innovation lies in the participatory development and use. Examples given in this paper, e.g. on match–mismatch analysis, show how the participatory process leads to the inclusion of features that can widen the scope of land valuation methods and enable the user to think more deeply, more reatively and in a context-specific manner.
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