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An assessment of the causes and consequences of agricultural land abandonment in Europe

Leal Filho, W and Mandel, M and Al-Amin, AQ and Feher, A and Chiappetta Jabbour, CJ (2016) An assessment of the causes and consequences of agricultural land abandonment in Europe. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology. ISSN 1350-4509

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Abstract

The agriculture sector is the principal source of income for around 20% of the EU-26 population, which live in predominantly rural regions that would be devastated without its contribution. Moreover, the combined agricultural and food sector forms an important part of the EU economy, accounting for 15 million jobs (8.3% of total employment) and 4.4% of GDP. The 12 million active farmers across Europe today, have an average farm size of about 15 ha, and are expected to meet the needs of 500 million Europeans. In addition, they are also expected to promote a sustainable and balanced development of their land, also in areas where production conditions are difficult. Yet, despite the relevance of the sector, the use of land for agriculture purposes is not very sustainable. Among other issues, there is a serious problem in respect of the abandonment of agricultural land. Based on the perceived need for research on this topic, the aim of this paper is to examine the causes and consequences of agricultural land abandonment, outlining its social, economic and environmental impacts, as well as the implications for territorial integration.

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