Historical and spatial dynamics & processes of mountain landscapes and its actors.

The majority of European landscapes are represented by a continuous and endless interaction between its natural and anthropogenic components. Through time, a shift from more ‘traditional’ towards post-modern landscapes was executed, resulting in the loss of several valuable landscapes, and characterized by differences in the dynamics, speed and scale of landscape changes and changing perceptions, values and behavior amongst its users. The mixed land use systems developed during the past, are characteristic for the Mediterranean rural areas, but are largely influenced by globalization and market strategies. The non-capability for competition of remote Mediterranean areas, together with a free market strategy and the same agricultural rules (Common Agriculture Policy) as in the Northwest of Europe, put Mediterranean areas in a weak position, which led to a global marginalization of these regions. Consequently there is, at European level, the need to define an operative, participatory and informative approach, with the aim of upgrading and enhancing rural areas, trying to combine the production needs with the historical character of the agricultural landscape. The aim of the research is to define and document a historical rural landscape, to detect the largest changes, to reconstruct the driving forces and to argument possibilities and opportunities for a sustainable rural development. Through a combination of a quantitative and qualitative analysis (cartographic analysis, theoretical framework, …) of several sources (cartographic and photographic material, field survey, semi-structured interviews, focus groups), this research wants to have a better grasp on the spatial and temporal evolution and impact of land abandonment on the character and identity of the rural mountain area of the Val Borbera (Northern Apennines) and its actors. This PhD project was finished in November 2016.

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