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Milada Šťastná and Antonín Vaishar

European Countryside - Editorial

EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE is defined as an international on-line scientific journal in the branch of rural development. It publishes first of all theoretical and methodological articles, dealing with multi-functional development of countryside, articles related to regional aspects of rural development and with problems of individual branches connected with the countryside. EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE is a journal supporting European processes of integration, collaboration of experts from European countries and the idea of Europe of Regions. EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE deals with problems of European countryside - although general and/or theoretical problems of rural research from other continents are welcome. Widening of the European Community and common agricultural policy put a joint future ahead of the rural development in whole Europe. Our journal welcomes articles from different disciplines dealing with the countryside having in mine conceptions of sustainability and locality: ecology of rural landscape, rural sociology, demographic development of rural regions, human resources, gender, multifunctional development of countryside, role of agriculture and other branches, rural and agro-tourism, geography of rural micro-regions, problems of rural borderland, rural settlement, small towns as rural centres, rural planning and architecture and other aspects of rural development. The publishing in EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE is open for all experts from universities, scientific institutions and other workplaces of investigation. The authors will pay symbolic amount for the publication of their papers. We go out from the presupposition that a majority of results arise within different grants projects where publication costs are an integral part of the budget. Other expenses connected with publishing of EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE are covered by the MUAF Faculty of Agronomy. On the other side, the papers published in EUROPEAN COUNTRYSIDE will be free accessible to all potential readers through the net. By such a way we hope in better quotation of individual papers and increasing value of the papers and their authors. Additionally, professional way of publishing helps to complete this aim.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar and Jana Zapletalová

Small towns as centres of rural micro-regions

Small towns ensure services on the basic urban level, jobs, social contacts, occasions to travel outside the micro-region, services of the state administration and sometimes also an identity of the micro-region. Mass commuting from villages to small towns is usual for Czechia for a long time. Small towns in peripheral regions are of our interest. Character of these towns is given by the remoteness and bad accessibility from regional centers, by the lack of investments, problems of human capital etc. Nevertheless, the peripheral small towns remain the definite centers of their hinterlands because of the lack of competition in majority of cases. The second demographic transition leads to ageing of rural population. Sub-urbanization and counter-urbanization impacts on the population shift from big and medium cities to the countryside. In the process of globalization, the countryside including small towns plays a role of bearer of the traditional way of life. Transferring the jobs from productive to non-productive branches endangers the countryside by losing jobs in industry. Increasing value of leisure, environment, space, security etc. offers new chances for small towns.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar, Lenka Jakešová and Miloslava Náplavová

Current problems in the South-Moravian rural landscape

Permanent development trends of the South-Moravian landscape are discussed. Four groups of impacts are observed: changes of agricultural using of the landscape, changes from the agricultural to other ways of utilization, stressing the landscape protection and influences of tourism. The changes in agricultural production occur in the less productive areas in the northern part of the region. Big changes were evoked by residential, commercial and industrial suburbanization in the hinterlands of Brno. About 1,300 rural brownfields can be found in the region. Wind power-plants form a new element in the landscape. The landscape protection has increased within EU. South Moravian landscape itself is the main offer for the tourism.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar and Milada Šťastná

Abstract

The paper analyses the problem of a rural region in the peripheral position. Bojkovice micro-region on the Czech (Moravian)-Slovak border has been chosen as a case study. Economic transformation of productive and non-productive branches, demographic development (depopulation and aging) and networking in the area were characterized by using statistical data and field research. Development, understood as improvement in quality of life and not in sense of quantitative growth, is highlighted with regard to the changing perception of the countryside. The question remains: how to use peripherality for prosperity? Peripheral countryside is known as “the right countryside” in comparison to suburbanized and globalized countryside in core regions. Based on the research, production embedded in local sources and traditions, ecological agriculture using the protection of landscape and soft tourism are proposed as solutions. Networking like the association of municipalities, LEADER local action group or White Carpathian Euroregion could be the instruments of micro-regional collaboration. The human and social factors seem to be more important than objective conditions. Long-term population stability is the main advantage. However, a lower level of formal education could be a problem. The character of social capital is considered as a decisive circumstance - whether it is passive social capital resistant to outer innovations or active social capital open for now ideas.

Open access

Kateřina Stonawská and Antonín Vaishar

Abstract

The authors argue that differentiation of various types of countryside is more important than to look for the definition of the rural against the urban. The paper is aimed at a typology of the Moravian countryside. Based on multifunctional (both hard and soft) data, Moravian micro-regions were divided into four categories – progressive, deficit and suburban countryside and predominantly urban micro-regions. Each of the categories has its own characteristics, threats, and needs. The authors stress that the approach of regional politics and both European and national subsidies have to take into account different categories of rural micro-regions. However, particular decisions have to be made in the intersection of the lowest regional level and the bottom-up approach expressed by community lead local development.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar, Lucie Vidovićová and Elisabete Figueiredo

Abstract

The paper discusses the concept of the quality of life and its measuring. It tries to explain its peculiarities in the rural space considering different levels of education, professional activities, mobility, ways of dwelling, access to the social and technical infrastructure. The subjective perception of both urban and rural people to the rural quality of life can be manifested in moving in and moving out. The main shortages of the rural quality of life can be seen (by rural people) in a poor access to the prestigious and well-paid jobs and to a richer social life. The main advantages of the rural way of life are generally evaluated (by urban people) by better access to the nature. A promotion of the local identity is considered as an important tool for improving the rural quality of life (besides of a solution of infrastructural problems), considering the enormous difference among European rural areas of a big differentiation of the European countryside. The last part of the paper summarizes the contributions of the special number.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar, Jana Zapletalová and Eva Nováková

Abstract

The paper analyses the position of small towns in the Czech settlement system. It deals with the definition of small towns, their geographical positions, demographic characteristics and functions in the national settlement system. A typology of small towns aimed at individual pillars of their sustainability is one of the results of the paper. The article discusses the position of small towns as part of the urban world and their position as a part of the countryside. It concludes that small towns are functionally important as rural centres. However, differences between urban and rural seem to be less important than differences among individual types of the Czech countryside (suburban, intermediate, inner periphery, borderland).

Open access

Antonín Vaishar, Milada Šťastná, Pavel Trnka, Petr Dvořák and Jana Zapletalová

Abstract

The South Moravian rural borderland has been studied as an example of peripheral countryside. It is defined by municipalities the cadastral districts of which border on the state frontiers. The borderland is considerably differentiated in dependence on the natural conditions, historic development, geographical position and subjective circumstances. The period after 1990 experienced a downturn in production sectors, development of the tertiary sector, quite positive demographic evolution with a positive migration balance (with some exceptions), further intensification of nature conservation and landscape protection, increased unemployment rate and lower standard of formal education. The strengths encompass the maintained and, in many cases, strictly protected landscape, suitable settlement structures with large villages, suitable conditions for agricultural activities, development of balneology and important transition position of the central part of the borderland. The weaknesses include, in particular, the distinctly seasonal character of tourism (short summer period), below-average education, poor condition of many local roads and exposedness of the territory to erosion. Opportunities include possibilities of international cooperation, support of non-production agriculture, demand for relevant forms of tourism, support of small and medium sized businesses. Threats are understood as the outflow of young and educated people, devastation of the environment through intensive farming and reduced economic competitive advantages. Strategies may consist in the preference of economic development or in focusing on the improvement of local inhabitants’ life quality.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar, Petr Dvořák, Helena Nosková and Jana Zapletalová

Abstract

Czechia lost more than 3,000,000 inhabitants as a result of the WW II. Germans displaced from the borderland formed the largest part. The newcomers after 1945 were of a different character – without any relation to their new settlements. This population formed a special social milieu familiar with the socialist way of thinking and that of a suppressed middle class. The consequences of it are seen in demographic, economic, environmental and social areas. After 1989, the factories in the borderland were mostly closed down, armies left the territory, people were not prepared to start their own businesses. Large-scale landscape protection formed a new barrier. Tourism is not able to substitute for the decrease in employment. The hope in cross-border collaboration has been overestimated.