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20. Regenerative development in rural regions

Thursday, June 29, 2023
13:45 - 15:15


Nicola McGunnigle
Phd Research Student
University of Adelaide

Intermediate levels of socio-ecological disturbance drive higher biodiversity in naturally regenerating forests on abandoned agricultural land in rural Nepal


Farmers in the middle hills of Nepal have been abandoning agricultural land over the last three decades due to complex socio-ecological drivers and dynamics. A consequence of this shift is the succession of forest. Naturally regenerating tree species, and farmer’s identification and opinion of species and benefits, have been assessed in field measurements and interviews to consider socio-ecological factors that influence forest succession. Non-linear patterns of species abundance and diversity suggest that intermediate regimes of disturbance create higher diversity than both high and low interference of regenerating forest patches. Peripheral disturbance patterns can be compared to multi-functional landscapes, such as the traditional, small-scale rural farming systems in Nepal that benefit incomes and livelihoods. These heterogenic agro-ecosystems are also associated with higher species diversity. Farmers that practice no or low levels of disturbance exhibit little investment or perceived benefits from the subject land beyond occasional fodder collection, while high forest disturbance is motivated primarily by activities that generate income. The inferences from these observations suggest that while drivers of land abandonment and perceptions of succeeding forest species are a consequence of complex and interacting socio-ecological factors, the disturbance of regenerating forest is motivated by perceived benefits associated with low-labour alternative landuses, whether deliberate (high disturbance) or default (intermediate). Policy to support the maintenance or enhancement of forest succession in multi-functional landscapes could contribute to higher species diversity and resilience through transitioning landscapes in rural Nepal.
Annalisa Spalazzi
Phd Candidate
Gran Sasso Science Institute

Regenerative tourism to respond to structural crisis in rural regions in transition: the case of Cammino nelle Terre Mutate


On the background of the slow burn affecting most Italian mountain areas, the aim of this work is to discuss the role of a bottom-up project, the “Mutated Lands Route” (Cammino nelle Terre Mutate-CMT), in enhancing the resilience capacity of local communities. The CMT is a 250 kilometres hiking path across the Apennines born to cope with the material and immaterial disruption caused by the 2009 and 2016-17 Central Italy’ earthquakes. By connecting villages and local communities between Fabriano and L’Aquila it stimulates visits to the ‘mutated lands’. Its strength is to be based on a common good. This presumably stimulates the commitment of local communities and encourages institutional cooperation through a common governance framework. As of now, the CMT is yet producing positive externalities. First, it has enhanced people and place-based activities to benefit from tourism as a regenerative action. Secondly, it has reinforced communities’ sense of identity. These first outcomes are an encouraging answer to the declining path of many inner areas that are suffering from contingent criticalities (earthquake) but also, and mainly, from structural ones (Compagnucci & Morettini, 2021, Ciuffetti, 2019). In this sense, the CMT is a timely territorial policy, fitting the Plan for Recovery and Resilience(PNRR). The paper discusses the case of CMT and argues how the route acts as a resilience network and an innovative governance structure - based on regenerative tourism – to design a new development pattern for the central Apennines by activating complementary activities to tourism, improving the livelihood of citizens.
Sandeep Joshi
University of Hildesheim

Rural Tourism engagement with Regenerative Development


Sustainability paradigms have evolved to include not only meeting human needs but also improving overall human well-being, ecological viability and resilience (Gibbons, 2020). Regenerative sustainability is the latest innovation in sustainability, promoting more resilient development paths and viewing humans as a part of nature (Wahl, 2016; Lovins, et al., 2018).
Regenerative tourism is a specific application of this approach, in which tourism activities are used as interventions to enhance the abilities of communities, visitors, and places to operate in harmony with socio-ecological systems, ultimately leading to an improvement in overall well-being of the entire system (Bellato, et al., 2022). However, there is little clarity regarding the meta-principles, praxis and indicators for evaluation of regenerative development, specifically in the field of regenerative tourism.
Socio-ecological indicators are crucial in holistically understanding and
romoting sustainability by providing insight into the functioning of
cosystems and supporting decision-making processes. However, these indicators need to consider both the non-human and human components of social-ecological systems to comprehensively understand the system's health. Despite their importance, current ecological indicators often fall short in terms of holistic guidance and integration of living systems
rinciples, leaving room for improvement (Gibbons, et al., 2020). My research focuses on developing holistic indicators and evaluation tools to gauge the engagement of the tourism sector of a rural destination with regenerative tourism. The evaluation tools and indicators will explore tourism as a phenomenon in rural destinations rather than just an economic industry using methodologies informed by systems theories, living systems thinking, and sustainability transitions while incorporating the perspectives of local stakeholders.

Session host

Sandeep Joshi
University of Hildesheim

Sabine Panzer-Krause
University of Hildesheim



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl