Transitions in Rural Areas Motivated by Demands For Ecosystem Services: Empirical Results From Portugal

Rute Martins, Maria Partidário


A transition in rural areas affected by in-migration is underway, with socialecological systems (SES) becoming more diverse in its activities and in its social capital. In this context, ecosystem services (ES) may be acting as a pull driver for incomers, while its delivery also depends on the increase of social capital in rural areas. This paper investigates this mutualism between ES and SES, particularly whether SES and the inherent ES can stimulate attractiveness to rural areas and promote development, while also benefiting from incoming skilled in-migration. The engagement of in-migrants with rural SES and their demand for ES in rural areas is examined through literature review, observing the phenomena in different cases worldwide, and illustrated with empirical observation in rural Portugal. Results from our empirical observation reveal that the arrival of in-migrants triggers the delivery of new ES such as provisional or cultural services and that these are key to generate positive outcomes for rural SES.

Keywords: rural in-migrants, ecosystem services (ES), social-ecological systems (SES), agents of change, transition

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.