Spanish Journal of Rural Development

The Spanish Journal of Rural Development (SJRD) is a quarterly scientific journal published by the Galician Association of Researchers for Rural Development Asociación Gallega de Investigadores para el Desarrollo Rural (AGAIDERU).

Span. j. rural dev. is a multidisciplinary journal which publishes original research articles of practical application in the fields of forestry, agronomy, the environment, rural planning, international cooperation and socioeconomic issues. The overall focus is on the sustainable rural development of local populations, within identified Priority Lines

The journal also applies a policy of exchange with various scientific journals, at both national and international levels, and it is indexed in important scientific databases.


  • Introduction

    Editor SJRD

    This special issue of Spanish Journal of Rural Development (SJRD) on “Urban green infrastructures” builds upon newly emerging urban needs: the call for quality of food in combination with the provision of nature landscape amenities in the metropolitan landscape. It is the result from explorative case study research on functionalities and multi-spatial connectivity of green space and natural systems, slogan of the XXV Congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology held in July 2013 in Florence, Italy.

    This is the first special issue of SJRD published this year, although it will not be only, and it means a new firm step of our journal in the arduous task to keep walking in a difficult and laborious context, looking for a respectable scientific quality. I conclude, therefore, with dignity: "it seems, Sancho, there is no proverb that it is not true, because all are judgements drawn from experience, the mother of all sciences" ("The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quijote" by Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra).

  • Prologue

    Paul Swagemakers and Joost Jongerden

    This special issue on urban green infrastructure builds upon newly emerging urban needs: the call for quality of food in combination with the provision of nature landscape amenities in the metropolitan landscape. The 8 contributions result from explorative case study research on functionalities and multi-spatial connectivity of green space and natural systems as presented at the XXV Congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology held in July 2013 in Florence, Italy. Central in the contributions is green space that has been “actively protected, managed, and in some cases restored” (Benedict and McMahon, 2006:2), which make them enlighten the opportunities and innovative arrangements we might think of in order to diminish the risk and vulnerability of social groups in our industrialized society (Bock, 2013), both in urban and rural areas.

    A first theoretical contribution (Swagemakers et al.) defines urban green infrastructure and identifies the roots of the rural-urban divide and new architectural orientations that bring the benefits of sustainable development to all parts of society. The second contribution (Jongerden et al.) introduces the concept of activity space, which supports analysing food provisioning practices considered as “assemblage of spatial practices” that are characterised by short or longer chains and go beyond the local-global duality. Within a historic perspective on modernization of the city and its hinterland, a third contribution (Kjeldsen and Christensen) identifies the reconstruction of a development path for the end of the road development of what had become a small, industrial city in a marginal rural area. A fourth contribution (Ortolani et al.) deepens understanding of the functionality of green space as food provisioning system by analysing how citizens integrate sustainable agriculture in an urban context. The fifth contribution (Domínguez García et al.) identifies how stakeholders organize public functions of green space while keeping governance costs for such social-ecological optimization low. The sixth contribution (Grivins and Tisenkopfs) provides empirical evidence for the importance of keeping an eye for diversity when analyzing the phenomenon of greater food awareness in cities. The seventh contribution (Koopmans et al.) builds upon such a recognition and demonstrates how the initially marginal position of such social dynamics can be interpreted in terms of an integrated framework that might help these initiatives to become mainstream. The eighth, final contribution of Reed et al. clarifies how dynamics on the integration between the rural and the urban are supported by European policy frames in which closing nutrient and water cycles is central objective.

    All together, the papers bring empirical evidence of the changing character of the city: they show the diversity and dynamics of connections that represent a way out of the dead-end road of “industrialized modernity”; they inform policymakers and grassroots initiatives about food provisioning practices that contribute to solve environmental problems while simultaneously creating economic benefits and human welfare.

    Benedict, M.A., McMahon, E.T. 2006. Green Infrastructure: Linking landscape and Communities. Island Press, Washington.
    Bock, B.B. 2013. Themes. Rural resilience and vulnerability: the rural as locus of solidarity and conflict in times of crisis. Program book. XXV ESRS Congress, Florence.

  • Urban green infrastructures in Europe: new architectural orientations for finding a way out of the dead-end road of industrialized modernity

    Swagemakers, P., Jongerden, J., Wiskerke, J.S.C.

    Historically cities and urban green infrastructures showed a diverse and dynamic character. The rise of urban agriculture is increasingly embedded in urban practices that aim to fashion a more sustainable and healthy city-region and food provisioning food system. This invites to rethink city-spaces and analyze grassroots dynamics as the spatial interweaving of densely populated urban centres and green open space, which represent actively, socially constructed functionalities and multi-spatial connectivity. Developing and implementing integrated policies to support these new practices is a major challenge.

  • Connective storylines: a relational approach to initiatives in food provisioning and green infrastructures

    Jongerden, J., Swagemakers, P., Barthel, S.

    Debates about the design and management of ecosystem services and interweaving of rural and urban spaces in metropolitan regions raise questions about how to conceptualize “the local”. Rather than presupposing spatial settings or identities as rural-urban or local-global, attention here shifts to the immediacy of connections and relations. Conceptualized in terms of activity space, this paper presents a relational analysis and a practice oriented approach. To illustrate the approach, we overview three case studies in food provisioning and show how an analysis in terms of a set of spatially organized activities can generate new insights.

  • Steps towards an integrated eco-economy: the case of Randers, Denmark

    Kjeldsen, C., Christensen, B.A.

    An important factor in the recent economical development of the Danish city Randers has been the project Randers Rainforest (RR). RR is a tropical zoo, which consists of an indoor exhibition within three domes, as well as an outdoor exhibition which includes the neighbouring meadows adjacent to the River Guden. RR has been an active part in creating and facilitating a multidimensional project space which combines experience economy, nature conservation, biodiversity enhancement, environmental regulation services, rural and landscape management, and food networks. RR can be interpreted as an attempt to develop an integrated eco-economy, which transcends established borders between public and private organizations, private and community enterprise and between rural and urban spatial development. The specific aim of the paper is to demonstrate how modernization has decoupled urban and rural space and has produced ‘left-over’ spaces within both domains. It will also be demonstrated how the tropical zoo project in Randers have revalorized ‘left-over’ qualities and reintegrated significant ecosystem services and other functions into the local economy, thus providing an overall enhancement of urban green infrastructure

  • Relational patterns in the short food supply chains initiatives in the city of Rome: clusters, networks, organisational models

    Ortolani, L., Grando, S., Cucco, I.

    Urban agricultural practices contribute to strengthen the interaction of urban and periurban green space systems with local citizen’s life, with a specific focus on human health. The production of ecosystem services by local farmers and the interest for urban agriculture has increased in Rome in the last 10-15 years, involving a high number of citizens. Following a network approach, the aim of this paper is to test blockmodelling as a tool to identify dynamics and innovative organizational models developed in Rome city region thanks to continuous interactions among short food chain actors, citizens and local administration. The blockmodelling identifies three clusters of actors with similar patterns of relations at the city region level. The interpretation of the clusters is integrated by a qualitative survey developed with the specific actors. The network analysis proves to be an interesting tool to explore agro-food dynamics in different city regions.

  • Collective agency and collaborative governance in managing the commons: the case of “A Serra do Galiñeiro” in Galicia, Spain

    Domínguez García, M.D., Swagemakers, P., Copena Rodríguez, D., Covelo Alonso, J., Simón Fernández, X..

    Whilst in the dominant discourse on the modernization of agriculture and forestry food and timber production is related to the world market, in many places people relate production and consumption in alternative ways. In the city-region of Vigo (Galicia, northwestern Spain) case study research is on how “Comunidades de Montes Veciñais en Man Común” (Associations of the Commons or CMVMCs) reconstruct the value of “Monte”, land traditionally in multifunctional use but that has been subject to a strong process of abandonment, for both rural and city dwellers. In particular, the study analyzes how interrelated projects of the CMVMC Vincios and the umbrella organization “Val Miñor Mancommunidade de Montes” provide four types of ecosystem services: provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural ecosystem services. The main research questions are: How does the management of Monte relate to coordination mechanisms grounded in collective action and decisionmaking? To what extent do CMVMCs contribute to the design and the management of the green sites in the city-region of Vigo? In conclusion, we examine how practitioners close the gap between food provision, biodiversity conservation and related ecosystem services, and construct a socio-ecological model based on the multi-functional use of the land that meets environmental sustainability and societal demands.

  • New urban food initiatives: a step towards the recognition of diversity

    Grivins, M., Tisenkopfs, T.

    Cities have witnessed unprecedented growth during the last half of the century. This growth has resulted in several social, economic, ecological and other problems the global society faces today. The growing interest among urban and peri-urban inhabitants of food related problems and willingness to participate in the search for new ways of how to both interpret and organize food chains, seems to be an answer to some of these problems. At least, as such it has caught researchers’ eyes who for the last decades have tried to find theoretical explanations on how to interpret greater food awareness in cities and how to analytically approach this phenomenon. This article suggests that in order to understand the emergence of alternative food chains one must ensure that the diversity of initiatives is not lost in the processes of analysis. To ensure that the diversity is not lost we have introduced a new term – New Urban Food Initiatives (NUFI) that includes all new modes of food provisioning in urban and peri-urban settings. In order empirically to illustrate the diversity of initiatives we continue with the analysis of 15 NUFI from Latvia. We conclude by suggesting that the use of NUFI can be a valuable approach in order to grasp the peculiarities of food chains.

  • Exploring the growth potential of (peri-) urban short food chain initiatives: a case study of Ghent

    Mettepenningen, E., Koopmans, M., Van Huylenbroeck, G.

    Many cities face the challenge to reduce their ecological footprint, but at the same time improve the quality of life for their citizens. Likewise, the global food system is facing major sustainability challenges. This paper starts from the observation that (peri-) urban agriculture has many potential functional ties with the city (e.g. reconnecting farmers and citizens, productive use of space and urban waste) that could contribute to its sustainable development. In the city region of Ghent, in Belgium, several short food chain initiatives have emerged that show significant potential to increase the sustainability of urban food provisioning by exploring possibilities for multifunctional land use and closing the gap between producer and consumer. However, these initiatives are still very scattered and most of them fail to reach the scale that would be necessary to really challenge the dominant urban food regime and significantly increase its sustainability. Based on in-depth interviews and transition theory, this paper uses a Multi-Level Perspective analysis to identify opportunities and bottlenecks for (peri-)urban short food chain initiatives in Ghent to develop and significantly challenge the dominant urban food regime. The results reveal important opportunities for growth in the stimulating political and social climate in Ghent, but also show that further development of the short food chain initiatives is considerably hindered by traditional views on (peri) urban land use patterns and difficulties to reach cost-efficiency with small-scale production. Solving these issues not only requires action at the level of the city government, but also a change in regulations at higher institutional levels and change within the consumers themselves.

  • Urban agriculture and the policies of the European Union: the need for renewal

    Curry, N., Reed, M., Keech, D., Maye, D., Kirwan, J.

    To date, analyses of European policies as they pertain to urban agriculture and new modes of socio-technical innovation are rare, beyond general assessments that recognise relative degrees of influence. The purpose of this paper is thus to provide a targeted review of key European policies that impact and are likely to impact upon urban agriculture and sustainable modes of food provisioning, with a particular focus on the Bristol city-region, to provide contextualisation. Through interviews with key actors in the cityregion we reflect on the importance not only of European level policies but also of how they are perceived and interpreted at a local level. By way of a systematic review based on key themes relevant to urban agriculture, the paper presents analysis of some of the key policies that are perceived to act to enable or frustrate the development of urban agriculture. The paper concludes by considering the ways in which a renewal of the CAP in particular might empower urban agriculture.