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“Rural development is a specific aspect of territorial development. It originates in the fact that the industrial and urban society which has been prevailing in Europe for more than one century has left out from growth and development trends numerous rural areas, in particular the most remote and peripheral ones. Rural development has therefore become a priority of spatial development policies in most European States.
In more recent years, a strong diversification of rural areas has however taken place in Europe, with some rural regions benefiting largely from the proximity of large agglomerations, others from tourism and/or from the settlement of retirees, while a number of other rural areas are still facing constraints of remoteness and marginalisation leading to out-migration of the population. It results from this that the tasks related to rural development are rather diversified and largely depend upon the context and situation of the rural areas considered. They comprise measures such as the improvement of accessibility, of living conditions, of the environment, the conservation of cultural landscapes and of the cultural and natural heritage, the promotion of soft tourism, the encouragement of small and medium-sized towns as well as large villages to act as service suppliers for their rural hinterlands, the promotion of high-quality regional agricultural, forestry and craft products while adopting environmentally-friendly production practices.” Source: CEMAT Spatial Development Glossary