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Doorstep Landscape: Agroparks as driver for food security and an attractive rural landscape

Graduation work by Renze van Och.

Till 2050 the demand for food will increase rapidly by the growing population of the large metropolitan areas. Still, food production is just limited taken into account in the planning of these metropolitan areas. Agroparks can create a ‘space-pump’ and thereby enhance both food-security, and an attractive rural landscape.

A shortage of food is one of the main threats humanity is facing (Myers & Patz, 2009). Several aspects will put a significant pressure on our food security. The world population is growing rapidly to 9 billion in 2050 (United Nations, 2012) and an increasing wealth will cause a shift in diet as people will consume more protein products (Smeets, 2009). It is not only the demographic and economic growth that puts a pressure on food security. Also the urbanisation has a large impact on food production worldwide. People migrate to cities for reasons such as financial security, employment, and education. In 2050 is expected that over 70% of the world population will live in cities (United Nations, 2012). This urbanisation has a double effect on food production. On the one hand the urban population expects to have a better access to enough and save food. But, on the other hand, these metropolitan areas are developing just in these regions that are the most suitable for food production. Despite this urgency, food production is just limited taken into account in the planning of metropolitan areas.

Demand for food world population

Influenced by a favourable climate, a well-developed logistical network, and a good knowledge infrastructure, the Dutch agriculture has developed to one of the most prominent food producers in the world. The Dutch agricultural sector has historically developed in the rural areas. A location that offered many advantages in times when the sector was still well connected with the landscape. Over time many farms modernised, and grew to large farms in the middle of the rural landscape. Many farms became ‘footloose’ and their location in the landscape does not match with their industrial way of producing anymore. A thorough spatial reorganisation as executed in other sectors, such as in the industry in the sixties, has never taken place in agriculture.

A clustering of the industrial agricultural activities in so-called Agroparks would offer many advantages with regard to logistics, the re-use of waste flows and energy use (Smeets, 2009), and thereby enhance a sustainable future for food production. Moreover this concept of clustering industrial activities in the urban network offers the possibility to create space in the rural landscape to develop for other functions. This concept of clustering and thereby parallel develop a perspective for both agriculture, and the rural landscape is called the ‘space-pump’. In this thesis is searched for the possibilities to develop this concept, and in what way other functions might profit from the clustering of agricultural activities.

The landscape of Venray, in the south of the Netherlands, is for an important part shaped by the presence of the livestock sector. This sector is very important or the region, but faces drastic changes. Approximately 50 to 70 percent of the farmers will quit their production in the upcoming decades, while the other farmers will take over their production. A transition resulting in numerous ‘mega-farms’ in the rural landscape. This transition is not desirable for both, the sector, as it does not match with their industrial way of producing, and the region of Venray, as it leaves just limited space for other functions than food production.

Average livestock per perosn in Netherlands vs Venray

In this thesis is sought how the development of Agroparks can benefit the agricultural sector, and at the same time benefit other functions in the region by means of the space-pump. Some parts of the landscape in Venray are clearly focussed on agricultural production, while in some other parts the function of agriculture is spatially mixed with other functions, causing sometimes frictional situations. The areas with mainly high productive agriculture offer good possibilities to further develop into a system of Agroparks. The availability of land and stables that are not essentially needed in the new agricultural system, and the disappearance of policy zones, offer space for low-dynamic functions to develop. Hereby also the frictional situation where agriculture is mixed with other functions can be solved. Although the space-pump does not directly benefit the agricultural sector, it will be an essential condition for the social support of the Agroparks.

Change of function: local sale

The development of the large agricultural sector in Venray provided the region with a very monotone production landscape. A landscape that offers just limited possibilities to develop other functions by means of the space-pump. By restoring the stream-valleys as an ecological, and recreational attractive framework, possibilities are offered for a wider range of social, and ecological functions in the rural landscape. Functions that in this way can balance for the economic development of agriculture. An attractive rural landscape at your doorstep, developed by means of the space-pump will offer Venray the possibility to be the first region with the ‘Doorstep landscape’, and the first Agropark with livestock in the Netherlands.

Changing streamvalley

Collage bridge over stream valley


Myers, S.S., & Patz, J.A., (2009) Emerging threats to human health from global environmental change. Annual review of environment and resources, 34, pp. 223.

Smeets, P.J.A.M., (2009) Expedition Agroparks. Research by design into sustainable development and agriculture in the network society. 1st ed. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

United Nations, (2012) World urbanization prospects. The 2011 revision. The highlights. Department of economic and social affairs, United Nations, New York.

oktober 17, 2014

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