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Abstract

Agricultural landscapes are important elements of European culture. There is an increasing recognition that agricultural landscapes represent economic assets; not only because of the production of agricultural commodities, but also by offering significant opportunities for the socioeconomic development of rural areas. However, in literature there is no clear evidence of which causal relationships exist between the valorisation of landscapes and the creation of socioeconomic benefits. The objective of this paper is to assess causal connections between actors, the goods provided in agricultural landscapes, the socioeconomic benefits created by these goods and the contribution of such benefits to regional competitiveness, using an Analytical Network Process supported by qualitative stakeholder validation. Network evaluation is done on basis of a stakeholder panel exercise conducted in 9 rural European study regions, which are all coping with different basic natural and social conditions. The results show, that various elements impact on the system of landscape valorisation. It can be seen that agricultural production still plays a key role in the relations between landscape and rural development; however the exercise also shows, that public goods lead to socioeconomic benefits and that differing regional conditions influence the importance of single elements playing a role in the system.

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