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

Per Angelstam, School for Forest Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skinnskatteberg, Sweden
Mariia Fedoriak, Department of Ecology and Biomonitoring, Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Fatima Cruz, Department of Psychology, Sustainable Forest Management Research Institute, University of Valladolid, Campus de la Yutera, Palencia, Spain
JosÚ Mu˝oz-Rojas, MED-Mediterranean Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Universidade de ╔vora, N˙cleo da Mitra Gab. 206, ╔vora, Portugal
Taras Yamelynets, Faculty of Geography, Ivan Franko National University, Lviv, Ukraine
Michael Manton, Faculty of Forest Science and Ecology, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas district, Lithuania
Carla-Leanne Washbourne, Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, University College London, London, United Kingdom
Denis Dobrynin, Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland
Zita Izakovičova, Institute of Landscape Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
Nicklas Jansson, IFM Biology, Conservation Ecology Group, Link÷ping University, Link÷ping, Sweden
Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Białowieża Geobotanical Station, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, Białowieża, Poland
Robert Kanka, Institute of Landscape Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
Marika Kavtarishvili, LL.M European and International Law School, Tbilisi, Georgia
Leena Kopperoinen, Biodiversity Centre, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Helsinki, Finland
Marius Lazdinis, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium
Marc J. Metzger, The University of Edinburgh, GeoSciences, Edinburgh, UK
Deniz ÍzŘt, Nature Conservation Centre, Ankara, Turkey
Dori Pavloska Gjorgjieska, Head Office/Secretariat of the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) in SEE, Skopje, North Macedonia
Frans J. Sijtsma, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
Nataliya Stryamets, Nature reserve "Roztochya", Ivano-Frankove, Ukraine; Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Mestre, Italy
Ahmet Tolunay, Isparta Unıversity of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, Isparta, Turkey
Turkay Turkoglu, Department of Forestry, K÷ycegiz Vocational School, Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Mugla, Turkey
Bert van der Moolen, Independent consultant
Asiya Zagidullina, Department Ecology and Vegetation Science, Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Alina Zhuk, Department of Ecology and Biomonitoring, Chernivtsi National University, Chernivtsi, Ukraine


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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.

Key words

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

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087