Stakeholder perceptions of the impacts of rural funding scenarios on mountain landscapes across Europe
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This article examines how alternative rural funding scenarios might influence the pattern of functional land types in mountain areas. The study aims were to explore the use of stakeholders to predict landscape change and to provide a future policy context for other papers in the Carbomont program. EU rural funding policies could have a strong influence on land use and landscapes in mountain areas. At eight sites across Europe, groups of local stakeholders were asked to compare the possible effects of three contrasting funding scenarios over an imagined period of 20 years on (1) the importance of the main land-use sectors; (2) the areas of the main land functional land types; and (3) the management of individual land types. Stakeholders also listed their interests in the area to help define the perspective of the group. The protocols used were ranking and scoring procedures that permitted quantification of changes and of the degree of consensus within the group. The scenarios were (1) continuation of current rural funding (status quo), (2) rapid reduction of farm income support (reduce support), and (3) increasing rural diversification funding (diversification). The eight countries sampled included five established EU members (UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain), two new accession members (Czeck Republic and Slovakia), and Switzerland. There were predicted to be widespread reductions in the importance of the agricultural sector across Europe and increases in the transport, built environment, and tourism sectors. In general, the status quo scenario was perceived to be unsatisfactory in various respects, reduce support was worse, but diversification offered opportunities for conservation and development of mountain communities and land use. Changes in the areas of land types would mainly involve loss of arable and grazing land and increases in scrub, and settlements. Some elements of the landscape such as most forests, mountain tops, and wetlands would, however, be little affected by any of the scenarios.