RSA Regions in Recovery 2022

SS17. Planning rural recovery and resilience-building capacity in small communities: eight incomplete pictures from rural communities in Germany, Japan, Poland and Spain

The 3VRUT project finds its pragmatical rationality from the premisses that rural regions in Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain and are under stress in emerging global crises (pandemics, refugee-related migration, economy-related rural depopulation, cyber-crime and disinformation, environment-related climate change). While in recent months, colossal work has been undertaken to identify and select indicators that would allow evaluating the resilience of small rural towns in different contexts. A clearer picture of the communities to be assessed within the project must be provided. The proposed special session aims to present a first portrait of the following communities: Shibushi and Tsukuba (Japan); Bayrisch Eisenstein and Obermichelbach-Tuchenbach (Germany); Połaniec and Bodzentyn (Poland) as well as Les Planes d’Hostoles and Alp (Spain). The portraits of these communities will focus on three resilience dimensions: the geo-social dimension, the economic size, and the geo-social dimension, economic size, and politico-institutional extent. Some complementary but fundamental data concerning two other dimensions (environmental, infrastructure, and built environment) will also be provided to complete the general descriptions of these communities. Finally, recurrences, similarities and differences between the communities will be discussed. Challenges to applied remote sensing data collection in these communities will be examined. A step to improve the general portrait through other methods (direct observation, field interviews, geo-statistic data gathering, etc.) will be considered. The special session audience will be invited to provide their inputs and ask questions.

Rural Nomenclature and Resilience Assessment: Linguistic, Institutional and Methodological Challenges

Luc Ampleman

Community resilient assessment tools have gained popularity over the last decade. The popularisation of the concept of ‘resilience’ itself; a greater awareness for global threats (pandemics, climate emergency, cybercrime, recent migration crises, energy challenges), an unprecedented commitment from international organisations for joint initiatives are certainly among the factors contributing to this popularity.

In this respect, several initiatives from diverse horizons have resulted in recent years in the creation of instruments to monitor the level of vitality and vulnerability of territorial communities. While it would be unfair to say that small communities have been neglected in this process, the idea that a significant part of the efforts to measure community adaptive capacity has been devoted to the largest agglomerations, large and medium-sized cities will not provoke controversy. Thus, do small communities identified as villages, towns, small localities, hamlets still suffer from an attention deficit? Are they more difficult to compare with each other than the largest gathering agglomerations qualified as ‘urban’?

In this regard, the researchers from the 3VRUT consortium have raised over the past few months, a series of issues highlighting the challenges of comparing small localities in Japan, Germany, Spain and Poland. Among these methodological challenges, one can mention deep differences in terms of anthropo-geographical characteristics; important economic dissimilarities, significant political discrepancies in terms of governance as well as distinctive critical vernacular and cultural traits.

This session introductory paper aims to bring together the fundamental issues to compare the eight study cases of the 3VRUT project but also in the longer term to craft a sounder tool that can be used on a larger scale. The paper first identifies a series of recent efforts to assess the vitality, vulnerability and resilience of rural communities. The second part intends to raise certain questions of a linguistic nature concerning the designation of small geographical communities but also offers a reminder of the challenges linked to the concept of rurality. The third part evokes the nature of the political challenges to analyse the intervention capacities of small communities. The fourth part returns to the methodological and epistemological challenges and limitations raised in the recent literature concerning rural resilience assessment tools. Questions and comments from the 3VRUT members an audience will be collected to build a clearer roadmap tracking methodological traps to avoid and best practices to undertake in order to build a more insightful tool monitoring resilience of rural communities.

Rural Germany: Reality Check – A Case Study of Rural Towns Obermichelbach–Tuchenbach and Bayerisch Eisenstein

Vineet Chaturvedi, Walter de Vries, Marco Hölzel, Pamela Duran, Diaz

Rural towns in Germany are undergoing drastic demographic, social, economic and institutional changes. Lower birth rates, rural to urban migration leaving many towns deserted along with an increasing rate of unemployment and decaying infrastructure has an ongoing impact on the quality of life in the rural setting. To evaluate, quantify and classify the risks and threats involved in rural Germany two towns experiencing decline and decay have been selected: Obermichelbach–Tuchenbach and Bayerisch Eisenstein in the federal state of Bavaria. The town of Obermichelbach–Tuchenbach is a municipality situated in the district of Fürth in Bavaria. The town can be categorized as an industrial town due to the existence of factories in and around the town. The town of Bayerisch Eisenstein is situated at the border of Czezh Republic. The town is a village and municipality in the Regen district. It is dependent on tourism due to the existence of the National Park and opportunities for skiing and other winter sports and as such can be treated both as a summer and winter resort. The research aims at studying the resilience of these towns and for the purpose a list of indicators have been selected to measure the 3 V’s: vulnerability, vitality and versatility. The research focuses on using a combination of remote sensing, machine learning, field observation, on site surveys and geostatistical tools to accomplish the goals of the project.

Rural Towns Portrait: Les Planes d’Hostoles & Alp (Spain)

Melisa Pesoa, Joan Moreno Sanz, Joaquín Sabaté Bel

In Spain 82% of the territory is occupied by only 16% of the population. Depopulation is one of the major threats that rural towns face. However, they also face other stresses related to the composition of the population, emigration & immigration, social inequality, economic dynamism, unemployment, among others. In Catalonia, we also find a spatial imbalance, given that the metropolitan region of Barcelona concentrates 72% of the population of Catalonia. In this presentation we will analyse the situation of two rural towns in the north of Catalonia: Les Planes d’Hostoles and Alp. The town of Alp is located on the Pyrenees, in a dynamic zone, near the county capital, next to the border with France, and it is mostly related to winter sports. Les Planes is located in a valley, in the south border of the county, far away from the county capital, in an interesting natural spot with small waterfalls. The aim of the study is to measure the resilience of these two rural towns. To do that, we build a portrait of the towns by using a set of indicators selected for the 3V research project –gathered using Remote Sensing, geo statistical data and on-site surveys– and adding the necessary data to understand the town in relation with the rest of the territory.

Japanese Case Studies: Shibushi and Tsukuba

Akira Mukaida, Ryo Michishita, Arvelyna Yessy, Pegah Hashemvand Khiabani, Remi Chandran

Japan's rural cities have undergone major changes in the past two decades in terms of demographics, social infrastructure, and economy. Declining birthrates, aging populations, and rural-to-urban migration have left many towns deserted, while increasing unemployment and aging infrastructure have affected the quality of life in rural areas. In order to assess, quantify, and classify the risks and threats lurking in Japan's rural cities, we chose Tsukuba City in Ibaraki Prefecture and Shibushi City in Kagoshima Prefecture, where the changes are significant and the factors of change are clear. In this section, we will mainly report on the changes in the residential environment and human flow associated with the development of urban areas, the expansion of residential areas, and the construction of high-speed railroads in Tsukuba City. The research aims at studying the resilience of these towns and for the purpose a list of indicators have been selected to measure the 3 V’s: vulnerability, vitality and versatility. The research focuses on using a combination of remote sensing, machine learning, field observation, on site surveys and geostatistical tools to accomplish the goals of the project.

The Picture of Rural Towns: Bodzentyn and Połaniec

Małgorzata Strzyż, Luc Ampleman

Abstract: In Poland, rural areas are evidently dominant. More precisely, on the total number of Polish rural towns and cities (964), 57,7% of them may be categorised as rural. One major issue faced by Polish rural communities is the local outflow of working-age population people as many of them are moving to urban areas. This problem is primarily associated with the need for creating local jobs especially dedicated to young people. Difficulty to cope with the appropriate management of their development potential (natural, cultural, social, economic, economical ones) as a result of inadequate strategy has also been often mentioned as a core issue for Polish rural communities. Conversely, the identification of the local needs tends to be a complex issue since it requires the analysis of many stressful features for rural localities (e.g. depopulation, social inequalities, unemployment, poor economic development, unsatisfactory level in the range of the quality of their life) and more especially in the context of the Covid pandemic and the political obligation to deal with the implementation of political agenda (e.g. European Green Deal, Polish Deal programme).

To illustrate the situation, the current paper look at the case of two Polish rural towns: Bodzentyn (in the northern valley of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains) and Połaniec (located in the upper course of the Vistula River Valley). The present paper aims to provide a first portrait of the above-mentioned towns through a preliminary set of accessible indicators identified by the 3VRUT Consortium. The paper also discusses some potential issues in accessing other planned indicators from the satellite databases and other remote sensing sources, geostatistical data and on-site surveys.