chapter  2
15 Pages

Tourism mobility, locality and sustainable rural development


Although often portrayed in nostalgic and romantic terms in tourism and place marketing, European agriculture has been undergoing significant change since the onset of the industrial urbanizing population. This has been evidenced not only by changes in the technology of agriculture but also the regulation of agricultural and rural space, and changes to rural economy and employment. There is consensus that trends in European agriculture over the past few hundred years – including the movement from small-scale to large-scale farms, from organic to industrial production, and from polyculture to monoculture – have had a wide range of implications for sustainability. This has included such diverse issues as land conversion and the associated loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, changes in nutrient cycles, problems associated with water use for irrigation and associated downstream water quality, use of chemicals, ethical questions such as those relating to animal welfare and genetically modified organisms, infectious diseases, biosecurity, food safety, emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as socioeconomic aspects related to regional development, loss of employment, and declining incomes of farmers (e.g. Bhalli et al. 2009; Chapagain and Hoekstra 2008; Lawton and May 1995; Vitousek et al. 1997; Zollitsch et al. 2007). Given these unsustainable developments in agriculture, described by Marsden (2003: 3) as ‘the race to the bottom’, there have been attempts to restructure rural production systems and to move towards multifunctional agriculture and more diversified rural economies (e.g. Labarthe 2009; Pfeifer et al. 2009; Renting et al. 2009). Often, this has involved calls to move from traditional agriculture, i.e. the production of ‘food and fibre’, to new agriculture, including the ‘production of nature and new spaces for leisure’ (Wilson 2009: 269), i.e. economic diversification based on the development of services.