Land Tenure as a Factor Underlying Agricultural Landscape Changes in Europe: A Review

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Abstract

Land tenure is generally considered to be an important factor affecting farming, landscape, and rural development. This paper reviews selected case studies to identify how land tenure influences agricultural landscape changes in Europe. We identified how land tenure information was transformed into variables, grouping these variables into general thematic categories: (1) land rights variables based on references to the type of stakeholders and duration of land occupancy, (2) land structure variables describing general land structure, and (3) behavioural variables dependent on stakeholders’ attitudes, perceptions, and personal values. Each thematic category can be defined on three spatial levels: parcel or production block, stakeholder, and landscape. The results show that the tenure factor is not frequently included into landscape-change studies. When a land tenure factor was part of a given study, it either played a minor role among other drivers of landscape change or, if it influenced significant landscape changes, it had only locally specific effects. Moreover, there were studies with contradictory results and so it is difficult to generalize specific findings. Nevertheless, land tenure is frequently discussed within landscape-change research in relation to land abandonment as well as green services and their connection with the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy.

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