This chapter explores how land is used and managed as a resource for rural places and for enhancing rural quality of life. We consider land as a fundamental and finite rural resource with human and non-human dimensions. While land is central to shaping the function, economic role, ecological integrity and quality of life within rural places, its management is also of critical importance in addressing global environmental priorities. These include climate change mitigation and adaptation, addressing biodiversity loss, food and energy security and sustainable water management. Extensive land-based resources are a central feature of rural places, with 86 per cent of land in OECD countries located in predominantly rural regions and a further 11 per cent in near-urban rural regions (OECD, 2020b). In relation to land, Hibbard and Frank (2019, p 339) remind us that:
Rural areas produce most of the world’s food and textile fibre. They are the source of most of its energy, minerals, water, and timber for construction and for paper pulp. They host the vast majority of the planet’s plant and animal species … Importantly, rural areas are undergoing a major transformation and are the locus of many of the most pressing planning issues, from climate change to biodiversity loss to land-use conflict to rapid market fluctuations.
Extensive land-based resources, in addition to the amenity and heritage dimensions of landscapes, are a key point of departure and substantive focus for planning in rural contexts.
Classical economics traditionally identifies land as a key capital stock, as a productive resource with value, for example for agriculture, mineral extraction or for absorbing waste (Chenoweth et al, 2018).
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