Perceptions of a small farming community on land use change and a changing countryside: A case-study from Flanders

Elke Rogge, Joost Dessein

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    In Flanders (Belgium), as throughout other parts of Europe, a decrease in the total number of full-time farms and a concentration of production in fewer and larger full-time farms can be recorded. Meanwhile, developments in other sectors in the economy, such as higher incomes, more free time and greater mobility, have increased demand for
    wildlife, landscape, leisure and outdoor recreation as an integral part of the countryside. These trends have major impacts on the countryside in general. These profound changes within both the agricultural sector and society are not simple and distinct processes, but are often complex and reciprocal. In this research we try to unravel this complex and reciprocal relationship by focussing on the production factor land and the bond that the individual farmer as well as the farming community has with it. More specifically, we want to provide insight in the way changes in land use and transformations of the countryside are acknowledged and evaluated among the farming community. In order to do this we propose a methodology which combines in-depth interviews with focus group discussions centred around visualized spatial data. This method allows us to get a better understanding of the perception farmers have of land and the value they attach to it. It also provides us with a better insight into the less visible changes in the social fabric of the countryside (such as the apparent tensions between retired and active farmers, tensions between part-time and fulltime farmers and the suspicion of traditional farmers towards multifunctional farmers).
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    TijdschriftEuropean Urban and Regional Studies
    Pagina's (van-tot)300-315
    Aantal pagina’s16
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - jul.-2015


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