Theory, Methods and Public Policy
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Gary Paul Green, Steven C. Deller and David D. Marcouiller
3. Rural amenity policies: future stakes Jean-Eudes Beuret and Marie-Christine Kovacshazy When residents of the countryside go into the city they often have to pay for a parking space and so pay for a service that is provided for them. When city dwellers head out to enjoy the quiet of the countryside, admire farmed landscapes and amble up country lanes to reach the best viewpoints, however, they pay nothing for the service they are provided. Yet it is indeed a service because the upkeep of the assets provided by rural areas has its costs. Farming practices change and what agriculture once produced naturally for our great satisfaction such as country lanes, landscapes, traditional buildings and so forth is no longer produced. Hedgerows and embankments are essential features of many country landscapes to which the French feel an attachment. Previously farmers would spend long days clearing out ditches and preparing for winter by cutting wood from the hedges, which by the same token were carefully tended. Some of these hedgerows have been ripped out today because they were in the way of farmers looking to work larger plots of land and needing wider lanes. The same is true of assets related to crafts, businesses and religious practices: the upkeep of chapels, mills and other buildings costs individuals and rural councils dearly for beneﬁts which are often slight or even nonexistent. Such assets provided by rural areas are vanishing: citizens grouped into numerous associations complain of this and criticize certain economic...
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