Production, consumption and protection

The multifunctional transition in rural planning

Authored by: Kathryn I. Frank , Michael Hibbard

The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138104051
eBook ISBN: 9781315102375
Adobe ISBN:


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We explore the implications of the multifunctional transition for planning in rural landscapes. First, to illuminate the concept of multifunctionality, we examine it as a framework for understanding recent changes in the ways rural landscapes are used, the multifunctional transition. We then assess how the multifuctional framework can inform rural planning. As a framework, multifunctionality is a helpful tool for describing and analysing the perceived changes in the ways rural landscapes are used. The basic idea is that the historically dominant use of rural landscapes has been for agriculture and natural resource production, including serving as a reserve for future urban expansion. The multifunctional framework identifies a shift toward a more complex and often overlapping mix of uses. In addition to production, rural landscapes are the site of consumption, using the landscape without using it up, as in tourism and recreation; and protection, maintaining, conserving, and restoring the landscape. Moreover, production, consumption, and/or protection often occur simultaneously on a given landscape. Beyond its descriptive and analytic role, the multifunctional framework offers a prescriptive message to rural planning about how rural landscapes can (and should) be managed to strengthen the environmental, social, and economic character of rural areas – to move toward greater rural resilience and the triple bottom line.

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