Planning for rural-urban dynamics: living and acting in several places.

The Swedish countryside has been shaped by those who have lived and worked there for hundreds of years. Due to urbanisation, more and more people have settled in cities, but stayed rooted in the countryside. They may have a cabin, inherit the family home, or own forest property. The opinions on how the forest should be used may vary between those who live in a property in the countryside, resident owners, and those who live in a city, non-resident owners. The idea behind this project was to investigate what kind of relationship different people wanted to have with the countryside, and their different values, then gather information about the different strategies for choosing where and how to live. Then increase the understanding between different preferences, and analyse how this information can be used to strengthen the rural municipalities’ development.

If you want to know more about the results, please browse the tabs “society” and “natural resources”.

Researchers from the Department of Human Geography at Umeå University and from the Department of Forest Resource Management at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences participated in the project. To study changes with regard to ownership and living patterns, the project used databases of population and forest owners, which are unique to Sweden and can be accessed at both Universities. The project also examined non-residential and residential owners’ preferences through letter surveys and focus groups. These groups included both forest owners and members of the general public who lived in urban and rural communities.

During the project, in-depth interviews were also carried out with different groups of people, especially those who share their time between different locations, to understand their strategies for where and how to live. This knowledge could later be used to understand the types of relationships that different people wanted to have with the countryside and how to strengthen these bonds to support the development of different rural communities. Finally, the project developed scenarios for municipal development alongside municipalities in Southern and Northern Sweden, and examined how the choices we make today can affect the municipalities’ future development.

PLURAL was funded by the Formas Strong Research Environment 2012–2017.

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