Agriculture and Environment: the New Challenge

Project location: ITALY, Various
Project start date: February 2001 - Project end date: January 2007
Project number: 2000-04
Beneficiary: IUCN European Regional Office


Final report 2006-2007

Conservation of landscape using effective system of farming

Analysis of rural and agro-environmental systems and of conservation policies for environmental resources and biodiversity conservation

Università degli Studi di Firenze - Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche

(Researcher: Dr. Riccardo Simoncini - Responsible of the research project: Prof. Alessandro Pacciani, Director of the Department)


Research activities for the year 2006-2007 have concentrated on the dissemination of scientific results achieved so far and in the planning of their implementation for the development of policy for rural sustainable development at regional, national and international levels.

Dissemination activities have resulted in:

1) Organisation and chairing of the International Conference on Sustainable Rural Development: Applied Science for Knowledge Driven Governance at local level, held at the University of Florence, Florence 16-17 November 2006. Title of the presentation: An integrated approach for the development of agri-environmental policy: The AEMBAC analytical framework, Riccardo Simoncini;

2) Participation to the 3rd Workshop of the project Governance and ecosystem management for biodiversity conservation (GEM-CON-BIO), 6th Research Framework Programme of the European Union, 11th - 12th January, 2007, Hotel de Saxe, Salon 3 (first floor), Dresden, Germany. Title of the presentation, The Chianti Case Study, Riccardo Simoncini;

3) Participation as invited speaker to the workshop Informative systems and communication for agri-environmental policy, organised by Agenzia Regionale per lo Sviluppo ed Innovazione dell'Agricoltura (ARSIA), held at Palazzo Bastogi, Tuscany Region, Florence 12 April 2007, Title of the presentation, Il progetto Europeo AEMBAC: Principi e Metodologia, Riccardo Simoncini;

4) Participation to 4° Workshop of the project Governance and ecosystem management for biodiversity conservation (GEM-CON-BIO), 6th Research Framework Programme of the European Union, Budapest, 5-7 September 2007. Title of the presentation, Development of a Governance Matrix, Riccardo Simoncini

5) Participation as invited speaker to the meeting of IUCN-World Conservation Union, European Sustainable Use Specialist Groups, held at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, 13-15 September 2007. Title of the presentation, The economic valuations of biodiversity goods and services, Riccardo Simoncini.

Research activities have resulted in:

1) Development of the project Evolution dynamics of farms and multifunctionality for the workpackage to be carried out by the Economic Sciences Department of the University of Florence;

2) Development of the project Developing an European Research Network for the Governance of Rural Areas at Regional/local level (ERGRA), submitted to the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union.

Research activities have focussed on the development and improvement of the capacities of European Regions to achieve "strategic knowledge" so to actively contribute to sustainable development in rural areas both at regional and European levels.

European rural areas are facing a period of great changes. Beside the development of new multifunctional models to improve the sustainability of traditional sectors such as agriculture, forestry, husbandry, etc., new demands by European citizens are promoting the development of new sectors such as nature protection and production of alternative sources of energies, and the expansion of already existing sectors such as those of tourism, recreational activities, maintenance of cultural identity.

Rural areas are also subjected to new driving forces such as climate change, globalisation of markets, immigrations, ageing of population, land abandonment and unemployment. These driving forces, in the near future, will all exert their pressures on economies, natural resources and populations of European rural areas.

This situation will force rural areas in Europe to restructuring their economies by developing new instruments of governance and management of local natural resources in order to face old and new challenges.

Research activities have therefore focussed on these themes by developing project proposals which have pointed out the role of governance of rural areas with the involvement of public and private stakeholders, and to the definition of operational tools necessary to achieve development which will be ecological, social and economically sustainable.

Results achieved

The organised international conference on rural areas governance has seen the participation of some the most renewed European experts, among which, as key note speaker, David Baldock, Director of the Institute of European Environmental Policy in London.

Given the high quality level of the works presented at the conference, It has been decided to publish the resulted papers. These are now under the peer review process to be published on the scientific journal Regional Environmental Change.

The renewed interest by the Tuscany Region in the AEMBAC project has resulted in the invitation to present the AEMBAC methodology at the conference on the Evolution dynamics of farms and multifunctionality.

The proposed methodology for the development of agri-environmental measures have led to the submission of a project proposal, in collaboration with the Agricultural Department of the University of Florence, to the Tuscany Region call for research activity on multifunctionality. The overall objective of the project is the analysis of the evolution of farms in relation to the effects of the multifunctional role agriculture. The project has been approved and funded on the 12th of September 2007.

Unfortunately the project submitted to the first call of 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union has not been funded. However seen the interest of the topics addressed by the proposal, this will be submitted again in the second call of the same research framework programme. In facts contacts and exchanges of opinions with other European Universities during the participation at workshops and conferences will facilitate the development and submission of new project proposals on rural development and biodiversity conservation.


Riccardo Simoncini (2007), Agricoltura e Ambiente, in Pacciani A. (a cura di), "Rapporto sullo stato del sistema agro-industriale e dello sviluppo rurale della Maremma", Laboratorio di Ricerche sulle dinamiche del sistema agroindustriale e del mondo rurale della Maremma.

Riccardo Simoncini (in press), Developing an integrated approach to enhance the delivering of environmental goods and services by rural areas: the underlying scientific rationale and methodology of the AEMBAC project, under peer review process for publication on the scientific journal Regional Environmental Change.

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