3. Bridging the gap between conflicting land-uses

Land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) in rural areas is a pivotal indicator of the change being experienced by rural systems. LULCC is both a cause and consequence of many biophysical and socioeconomic transformations: new technologies, changing human activities and values, population growth, planning decisions, climate change, natural hazards, etc. Specific LULCCs observed across the globe include, inter alia: forestation and deforestation, the conversion of farmlands into residential allotments, the abandonment of productive areas for conservation, the explosion of crops such as soybeans being used for biodiesel, and the implementation of wind and solar farms. The potential mismatch between these new and emerging land-uses and land-covers often leads towards social and political conflicts at several geographical scales. This thematic session proposes a focussed discussion on rural LULCC under sustainability lenses, especially when bridging the gap seems particularly needed.

A particular situation in conflicting land-uses and land-covers is related to environmental protection devices affecting previous, ongoing and/or new human activities. Dowie (2009) and Zimmerer (2000) have outlined the overall escalation of contentious political and social conflicts because of the implementation of protection structures such as national parks, biosphere reserves and similar conservation mechanisms. Interestingly, protection devices such as natural parks and reserves can often become a major attractor for tourists, prompting urban development interest despite the limits set for the protection of the natural values. This process has been termed “naturbanisation” by Prados (2009). Analyses of protection devices with regard to LULCC are particularly welcome in this session.

This thematic session welcomes contributions around these questions:

> What rural LULCC monitoring methods have been utilised and what are the observed trends and patterns? How have they been measured? What are the driving forces prompting these changes?

> What are the socio-cultural, economic and environmental implications of rural LULCC?

> What conflicts arise when rural LULCC occurs?

> What are the political and policy responses for rural LULCC?

> What are the LULCCs experienced particularly in protected areas? How do these changes interact with environmental planning and management?