Farmland in municipal physical planning : a production perspective of farmland conversion
Sammanfattning: During a relatively short time period Sweden has experienced a significant decrease in farmland area: between 1951 and 2010 over 1 million hectares was put out of production. Most of the decrease in farmland area can be ascribed to conversion into forest plantation or unintentional overgrowth of some form, and only 10 – 15% is due to development projects such as housing, business facilities and infrastructure. There is however a fundamental difference between farmland overgrowth and urban development on farmland, namely that the former is a reversible process whereas urban development is practically irreversible. The decrease in farmland along with a population growth has radically changed the possible rate of national self-sufficiency: Sweden utilizes food products corresponding to roughly 0,41 hectares per capita whereas on a national level there is only access to 0,28 hectares. The conversion of farmland is governed by the environmental code and the task of managing issues of farmland conversion lies solely on individual municipalities and there is no national coordination in the matter. Furthermore, there are reports that point to shortcomings in the municipal application of the environmental code, specifically in the comprehensive plan, and the need for stronger protection of farmland. As such this study aims to explore the possibilities for the already ascribed legal protection of farmland to function within municipal physical planning, with a focus on the comprehensive plan. To fulfill this aim the study takes on a literature review, a review of municipal planning documents and an interview study. The results show that there are large disparities between the management of farmland in the actual comprehensive plan and the knowledge and beliefs of individuals involved in the planning process, that there are significant perceived difficulties in valuing farmland and that the application of the environmental code is insufficient to protect farmland.
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