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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Meeting places and social capital supporting rural landscape stewardship: A Pan-European horizon scanning

Angelstam, Per; Fedoriak, Mariia; Cruz, Fatima; Munoz-Rojas, Jose; Yamelynets, Taras; Manton, Michael; Washbourne, Carla-Leanne; Dobrynin, Denis; Izakovicova, Zita; Jansson, Nicklas; Jaroszewicz, Bogdan; Kanka, Robert; Kavtarishvili, Marika; Kopperoinen, Leena; Lazdinis, Marius; Metzger, Marc J.; Ozut, Deniz; Gjorgjieska, Dori Pavloska; Sijtsma, Frans J.; Stryamets, Nataliya;
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Achieving sustainable development as an inclusive societal process in rural landscapes, and sustainability in terms of functional green infrastructures for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, are wicked challenges. Competing claims from various sectors call for evidence-based adaptive collaborative governance. Leveraging such approaches requires maintenance of several forms of social interactions and capitals. Focusing on Pan-European regions with different environmental histories and cultures, we estimate the state and trends of two groups of factors underpinning rural landscape stewardship, namely, (1) traditional rural landscape and novel face-to-face as well as virtual fora for social interaction, and (2) bonding, bridging, and linking forms of social capital. We applied horizon scanning to 16 local landscapes located in 18 countries, representing Pan-European social-ecological and cultural gradients. The resulting narratives, and rapid appraisal knowledge, were used to estimate portfolios of different fora for social interactions and forms of social capital supporting landscape stewardship. The portfolios of fora for social interactions were linked to societal cultures across the European continent: "self-expression and secular-rational values" in the northwest, "Catholic" in the south, and "survival and traditional authority values" in the East. This was explained by the role of traditional secular and religious local meeting places. Virtual internet-based fora were most widespread. Bonding social capitals were the strongest across the case study landscapes, and linking social capitals were the weakest. This applied to all three groups of fora. Pan-European social-ecological contexts can be divided into distinct clusters with respect to the portfolios of different fora supporting landscape stewardship, which draw mostly on bonding and bridging forms of social capital. This emphasizes the need for regionally and culturally adapted approaches to landscape stewardship, which are underpinned by evidence-based knowledge about how to sustain green infrastructures based on both forest naturalness and cultural landscape values. Sharing knowledge from comparative studies can strengthen linking social capital.


green infrastructure; human well-being; landscape approach; regional studies; rural development; social-ecological system

Published in

Ecology and Society
2021, volume: 26, number: 1, article number: 11

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Fedoriak, Mariia
Yuri Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
Cruz, Fatima
Universidad de Valladolid
Munoz-Rojas, Jose
University of Evora
Yamelynets, Taras
Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine
Manton, Michael
Vytautas Magnus University
Washbourne, Carla-Leanne
University of London
Dobrynin, Denis
University of Eastern Finland
Izakovicova, Zita
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Jansson, Nicklas
Linkoping University
Jaroszewicz, Bogdan
University of Warsaw
Kanka, Robert
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Kavtarishvili, Marika
Caucasus University
Kopperoinen, Leena
Finnish Environment Institute
Lazdinis, Marius
European Commiss
Metzger, Marc J.
University of Edinburgh
Özüt, Deniz
Nature Conservation Centre
Gjorgjieska, Dori Pavloska
Head Office/Secretariat of the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG)
Sijtsma, Frans J.
University of Groningen
Stryamets, Nataliya
Universita Ca Foscari Venezia
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UKÄ Subject classification

Human Geography

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