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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

The Natural Resource Turn: Challenges for Rural Research and Policy

Waldenström, Cecilia; Westholm, Erik


Forecasts for demographic change and long-term economic growth in the world indicate a probable critical growth in demand for biological resources such as food, bioenergy, and forest products over the next few decades. In Sweden, as in other western economies where the rural economy and the rural population have been declining since the Second World War, such an expected natural resource turn may have major implications for social and economic change in rural areas. In this paper we explore the research needs that follow from the perspective of a natural resource turn, which we define as a long-term economic upgrading of natural resources following on critical growth in demand. Based on the situation in Sweden, we elaborate on four themes, considered as central to understanding natural resource turn–related rural change from a future perspective: (a) the production and management of biological resources and landscapes; (b) demographic change; (c) the location of economic activity to rural areas; and (d) social transformations in rural communities. Finally, some policy implications of these changes are outlined


Natural resource turn; rural studies; rural development; rural policy;

Published in

Journal Of Rural And Community Development
2009, Volume: 4, number: 1, pages: 101–116