Maintaining vibrant rural communities

Margaret Alston

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


    Agricultural productivity has trebled in Australia over the last 50 years, suggesting that all is well in the heartland of agriculture - the inland rural communities around which much of our production is based. none the less in this chapter I sound a note of warning, arguing that an over-reliance on economic parameters as the only indicator of success will inevitably compromise the industry. Social sustainability is critically important to an industry that relies so heavily on farm families. Yet access to education, employment, health and welfare services and transport and telecommunications infrastructure is reducing the attractiveness of rural areas. Sustaining families and attracting young people into the industry are vital to its survival. In this chapter I introduce the notion of multifunctionality, a concept in favour outside Australia, as a way of valuing rural areas beyond their productive capacity. Thus when we assess the amenity, heritage and cultural value of rural areas we move beyond the notion of economics as determinant. The concept opens up the need for wider investment in human, institutional, environmental and social capital as ways of revitalizing rural communities and of ultimately ensuring the future viability of agriculture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRedesigning animal agriculture
    Subtitle of host publicationthe challenge of the 21st century
    Place of PublicationWallingford, Oxfordshire
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)9781845932237
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


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