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

Per Angelstam, Mariia Fedoriak, Fatima Cruz, Jose Muñoz-Rojas, Taras Yamelynets, Michael Manton, Carla Leanne Washbourne, Denis Dobrynin, Zita Izakovicova, Nicklas Jansson, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Robert Kanka, Marika Kavtarishvili, Leena Kopperoinen, Marius Lazdinis, Jean-Marc Metzger, Deniz Özut, Dori Pavloska Gjorgieska, Frans Sijtsma, Natalie StryametsAhmet Tolunay, Turkay Turkoglu, Bert van der Moolen, Asiya Zagidullina, Anna Zhuk

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages86
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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