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Abstract

Using a case study of the Búrfell wind farm project, a large wind farm proposed in the Central Highlands of Iceland, the authors attempt to provide new insights into the factors shaping subjective landscape perceptions and attitudes to renewable energy developments, and into alternative methods that may be used for their assessment. The research was based on an on-site visit and actual experience of the place, investigated using a combination of mental mapping, the technique of the semantic differential and a questionnaire survey. The results show that participants visiting a landscape and using all sensory organs in combination with mental mapping, can reveal more important information than using only ‘laboratory’ methods with static photographs. The results suggest that the perception of landscape is highly subjective. Those perceiving the landscape as more open, homogenous, industrial, unfamiliar and resilient also consider it more compatible with wind turbines. The perception of the landscape’s compatibility with wind turbines proved to be a dominant factor shaping attitudes towards the project. The acceptance of wind turbines is not, however, inconsistent with the perception of landscape as beautiful, wild and unique. Participants from more densely populated countries and countries with a developed wind energy industry were more tolerant of wind turbines in the Icelandic landscape.

Abstract

Landform assemblages may be used to define sites of geomorphological interest which are resources for rural sustainability. This paper focuses on the valuation and significance of such sites in the context of one European internal border region, illustrated using a case study from the inland mountains of the Spanish-Portuguese border: the Serra do Larouco. The theoretical and methodological approach used includes the recognition, inventory and assessment of a preliminary list of twenty-eight sites. They comprise diverse granitic landforms which characterise the rural inland landscapes in the North West of the Iberian Peninsula. The results from the qualitative and quantitative assessments were the basis for a final selection of nine sites as significant land resources. An analysis of their key values supports the proposal of different use and management options to promote rural sustainability. A review of the methodology applied and the consideration of other case studies provide a means to interpret and discuss the regional and local significance of the selected sites. The conclusions emphasise the crucial role that values linked to landforms can play in little-known mountainous and rural border regions, suggesting a future research agenda.

Abstract

Landscape responses to degradation caused by aridification bring the landscape system into a new equilibrium state. The system transformation may entail irreversible changes to its constituting parameters. This paper analyses the impact of aridification on landscape degradation processes in the sand-covered landscapes of the Hungarian Danube-Tisza Interfluve region at the regional, landscape, and local site scales. Changes in groundwater level (well data), lake surface area (Modified Normalized Difference Water Index) and vegetation cover (Enhanced Vegetation Index) were analysed over time periods of 12–60 years. Significant regional variation in decreasing groundwater levels is observed and limits the regional applicability of this indicator. Applying the lake surface area parameter from remote sensing data demonstrated greater utility, identifying several local lakes in the landscapes which have dried out. Analysis of the vegetation response indicated minor changes over the 2000–2014 time period and did not indicate a landscape system change. Landscape degradation as a result of changes in groundwater, vegetation, land cover and land use is clearly identified exclusively in local lake areas, but at the landscape scale, changes in the water balance are found in phases of system stability and transformation. Thresholds are identified to support policy and management towards landscape degradation neutrality.

Abstract

Bio-energy (like other renewable energy sources) is proposed as a solution for climate change and other energy-related and economic issues. The predominant production model, however, which is based on first-generation biofuels developed on a global scale, creates ecological impacts throughout the production chain, resulting in a sustainability paradox, as well as social unrest and territorial conflict. Therefore, attention here is focussed on agro-energy and second-generation biofuels, investigating the structural differences, the advantages, the potential problems and the possible solutions of some local biofuel initiatives in North Western Europe. Finally, we propose a regional agrarian model to avoid the impacts and contradictions of the global industrial model, to produce a better ecological balance at both the local and the global levels, and to improve the democratic character of energy governance. In addition, we suggest a paradigmatic reading to better understand the cultural, political and socio-economic implications of the two models.

Abstract

Residents’ and visitors’ perceptions of and attitudes towards existing wind farms, as well as the perceived impact of wind farms on tourism, are examined in this article with reference to a built heritage site in the Portuguese countryside. Based on a set of semi-structured interviews, the paper sheds light on the positive impact that the community’s or local actors’ involvement in the constitution, management and decision-making processes has on the residents’ perceptions and attitudes regarding wind farms, and also on the trade-off with the perceived effect of wind farms on local tourism. Moreover, it shows that although most visitors criticised the proximity of wind turbines to medieval architecture, a clear majority of them accepted their presence and virtually all of them stated that these facilities had no impact on their choice of destination.

Abstract

The “Urban Agriculture Europe” EU COST-Action (2012–2016) has shown that the complexity of urban agriculture (UA) is hardly compressible into classic business management models and has proposed new management models, such as the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Business models of UA have to be different from rural ones. In particular, factors such as differentiation and diversification, but also low cost-oriented specialisation, are characteristic and necessary business models for UA to stay profitable in the long term under challenging city conditions. This paper aims to highlight how farm enterprises have to adjust to urban conditions by stepping into appropriate business models aiming to stay competitive and profitable, and how the BMC is useful to analyse their organisation and performance, both economically and socially. The paper offers an inter-regional analysis of UA enterprises located in Spain, Italy, and Germany, which are further subdivided into: local food, leisure, educational, social, therapeutic, agri-environmental, cultural heritage and experimental farms. The analysis demonstrates that UA is differentially adjusted to specific urban conditions and that the BMC is useful for analysing urban farming. Heterogeneous local food farms and the integration of local and organic food production in social farming business models are most frequent in our case studies.

Abstract

Contemporary urban sprawl and urban functional centrality at the regional scale have made the classical urban-rural dichotomy no longer valid. Instead, urban development generates a range of peri-urban transitional areas in which urban and rural uses are mixed in a fragmented land mosaic. The main objective of this paper is to detect opportunitites for the revitalisation of peri-urban agriculture based on an analysis and comparison of its evolution in two different regional contexts in Spain. The peri-urban space is delimited according to density, topography and perceptual criteria. Aerial images and cartographic bases are used to identify land quality and land use changes in the areas, concluding that peri-urban agriculture has suffered both urban occupation and internal changes in crops and agricultural uses, experiencing a process of decline. Innovative initiatives performed in these spaces are also explored as opportunities for revitalisation from a multifunctional approach, linking urban population to peri-urban agriculture, organic farming or landscape management. This analysis serves as a prerequisite to develop new policies for the planning of peri-urban agriculture at local and regional scales, based on a deep understanding of the territory and its evolution.

Abstract

In the recent literature, Alternative Food Networks (AFN) are discussed as a promising approach, at the urban-rural interface, to meeting the challenges of the current agri-food system. Consumer-producer collaboration is seen as a characteristic feature in this context. What is lacking, however, are general concepts for describing the topics of consumer-producer interactions (CPI). The present study aims (1) to develop an analytical framework relying on six CPI domains and (2) to apply it to investigate CPI effects on consumers’ learning about and appreciation of agriculture. We conducted 26 guided interviews with consumers and producers of the three most frequent AFN types in Germany: community-supported agriculture (CSA), food coops, and self-harvest gardens. The results show that AFN participation enhances consumers’ learning about food (seasonality, cooking/nutrition, housekeeping aspects) and agricultural production (farmers’ perspectives, cultivation). Our results show that consumer’s learning is influenced by certain CPI domains, and each AFN type can be described by distinctive CPI domains. This led to the conclusion that specific AFN types open up specific learning channels and contents, with consumers learning from producers. AFNs at the urban-rural interface exploit knowledge of rurality.

Abstract

Using ‘Urban Atlas’ as a data source, the authors present and critically discuss in this paper the application of figure-ground plans in combination with complex land-use maps as a tool for spatial analysis of urban agriculture in European cities and their multifunctional green infrastructure. The selected cities and metropolitan areas (including Dublin, Ruhr Metropolis, Geneva and Sofia) represent different regions in Europe from the Northwest to the Southeast. Urban fabric, agriculture and non-agricultural open spaces have been analysed and compared as the main land-use components. Agricultural open spaces include arable land with annual crops and permanent crops, such as vineyards, fruit trees and olive groves; pastures; as well as complex and mixed cultivation patterns. The results reveal the scale and land-use diversity of metropolitan regions and different spatial patterns of urban agriculture at the regional level and in central urban areas.

Abstract

In the article, which is a theoretical and conceptual introduction for the Special Issue of Moravian Geographical Reports on ‘New trends and challenges of urban agriculture in the context of Europe’, the authors resume and review diverging issues of urban agriculture, exploring and discussing them from a geographical perspective and in a wider context of the transformation of urban and rural spaces, urban regeneration and renewal, agricultural restructuring, multifunctionality, ecosystem services, land-use conflicts and social responsibility. After the introduction that depicts a changing role of agriculture in the context of urban and rural transformations, the current research on urban agriculture in Europe is summarised and reviewed. Then the main trends and concepts of growing and expanding urban agriculture are presented and discussed with a special emphasis on the challenges these pose to geographers.