Agricultural Abandonment in Mountain Areas of Europe: Environmental Consequences and Policy Response

Posted: 25 Jul 2000

See all articles by D. MacDonald

D. MacDonald

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute; Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

J.R. Crabtree

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute

Georg Wiesinger

Government of the Republic of Austria - Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas; Macaulay Land Use Research Institute

Thomas Dax

Government of the Republic of Austria - Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas

Nikolaos Stamou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Philippe Fleury

SUACI Montagne - GIS Alpes du Nord

Juan Gutierrez Lazpita

IKT

Annick Gibon

French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)

Abstract

Agricultural abandonment reflects a post war trend in western Europe of rural depopulation to which isolated and poorer areas are most vulnerable. The commercialisation of agriculture, through technological developments, and the influence of Common Agricultural Policy have increased productivity and focused agricultural activity on more fertile and accessible land thus transforming traditional approaches to farming. In many areas this has lead to a decline in traditional labour intensive practices and marginal agricultural land is being abandoned. The problems that these trends create are particularly marked in mountain areas. The social and economic impacts of these changes have been well documented. However, the implications for environmental policy are less well recognised. This paper reviews the literature on abandonment and gives a comparative analysis of European mountain case studies to assess the environmental impacts of land abandonment and decline in traditional farming practices. It finds abandonment is widespread and that, while the influence of environmental changes is unpredictable due to environmental, agricultural and socio-economic contextual factors, abandonment generally has an undesirable effect on the environmental parameters examined. The application of agri-environment policy measures in relation to abandonment is discussed and suggestions for future policy are proposed.

Keywords: land abandonment, agriculture, agri-environment policy, biodiversity loss, landscape change

JEL Classification: Q12, Q18

Suggested Citation

MacDonald, Daisy and Crabtree, J.R. and Wiesinger, Georg and Dax, Thomas and Stamou, Nikolaos and Fleury, Philippe and Gutierrez Lazpita, Juan and Gibon, Annick, Agricultural Abandonment in Mountain Areas of Europe: Environmental Consequences and Policy Response. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=234262

Daisy MacDonald (Contact Author)

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute ( email )

Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen, AB15 8QH
United Kingdom
01224 318611 (Phone)
01224 311556 (Fax)

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki
Greece

J.R. Crabtree

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute

Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen, AB15 8QH
United Kingdom

Georg Wiesinger

Government of the Republic of Austria - Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas

Moellwaldplatz 5
Wien, 1040
Austria
+43 1 504 88 69 0 (Phone)
+43 1 504 88 69 39 (Fax)

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute

Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen, AB15 8QH
United Kingdom

Thomas Dax

Government of the Republic of Austria - Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas

Moellwaldplatz 5
Wien, 1040
Austria

Nikolaos Stamou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki ( email )

Thessaloniki
Greece

Philippe Fleury

SUACI Montagne - GIS Alpes du Nord

11 rue Metropole
73000 Chambery
France
+04 50 27 50 86 (Phone)

Juan Gutierrez Lazpita

IKT

Arkaute
Vitoria-Gasteiz
Spain

Annick Gibon

French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) ( email )

147, rue de l'Universite
Centre de Recherches de Toulouse B.P. 27 - 31326
75338 Paris CEDEX 07
France
+05 61 28 52 67 (Phone)

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