Narratives of land abandonment in a biocultural landscape of Spain


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Rural abandonment is a significant process in the Mediterranean region, posing sustainability challenges for rural and urban areas. Although there is an increase in studies focusing on the ecological implications and impacts of land abandonment and the role of rewilding, there is a knowledge gap in the study of the socio-cultural dimension of abandonment from the local perspective, even though it is crucial for land management decision. This study focuses on a case study in Western Spain, where a social survey was used to assess the perceptions of local communities regarding land abandonment and their implication on nature’s contributions to people and quality of life. A survey campaign was administered in the case study region during the summer of 2020, collecting 205 face-to-face surveys. The results show that local communities overall have a negative reaction toward rural abandonment. In addition, local respondents recognize how traditional agriculture is the main source for maintaining nature’s contributions to human well-being. Additionally, four groups of narratives toward rural abandonment were identified representing clusters of respondents with different motivations and interpretations of rural abandonment. This paper calls for understanding better the perceptions, values, and motivations toward rural abandonment and how their outcomes can be used as input for landscape management. Our results indicate that the local population perceives that the loss of rural livelihoods may entail serious environmental and societal problems, as locals are forced to abandon their rural-associated ways of life and migrate to urban areas.
land abandonment,biocultural landscape,spain
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