Periurban natural areas are an increasingly important space in many municipalities of the European Union and the world. They are areas which play a fundamental role in territorial planning, because they put a check on the unlimited growth of cities, they generate landscape and they humanize the urban environment. Moreover, they act as a green lung for large cities
and they increase biological diversity
In many cases, periurban natural spaces fulfil as well the role of an agricultural area
, providing multifunctional food productivity activities. In the same time, and because of their location, these periurban agricultural activities are submitted to a great deal of tension. The economic function of these areas, fundamental for their survival in the future, is reduced by the pressure from urbanization
which they must withstand. It is definitely not always easy for the managers of periurban natural spaces to combine agricultural activity with protection of the natural environment and the provision of activities for the public.
As a matter of fact, periurban agricultural areas relations between town and country can easily deteriorate, either due to the high demand for recreational and leisure uses that – if not properly planned and managed can negatively interfere in the normal development of agricultural activity – or due to conflict because of the inconvenience which the agricultural activity can cause in the nearest urban areas.
As for the business of the farmers, the proximity to cities offers significant opportunities to market the production, mainly due to the proximity of a consumer market that is becoming more aware of fresh produce, quality and food self-sufficiency, to the need to reduce energy and environmental consumption associated with transporting these products from distant lands and the possibility of knowing its origin and producer.
Thus, periurban agriculture has the capacity to generate services to the city
, including the use of organic matter of urban provenance, previously recycled and composted, with optimal quality for agriculture, reclaimed urban water, and allowing the natural recharge of aquifers and reducing the risks of disasters (floods, rising temperatures in the city, etc.).
Finally, in order to strengthen the role of periurban agriculture, FEDENATUR members face several common challenges
, as e.g. the issue of how to assure a good management of such periurban natural spaces. The way, park managers’ deal with urban pressures and the abandonment of the countryside can vary largely according to the point of view of political decision-makers, climatic parameters or the size of the area. It is not only due to the exchange of ‘best practices’
, but as well thanks to the participation in technical meetings
that our members can improve their knowledge on periurban agriculture. For further reading:
- Charter on Periurban Agriculture
- Proceedings of FEDENATUR Technical Meeting: Periurban Agriculture: problems, opportunities and challenges, 2005.- Urban Agriculture Europe