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Transnational cooperation between rural areas

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A great diversity of themes,
just like rural Europe


Tourism, agri-food products,
technologies, development
methodologies... The themes
covered by the LEADER II
transnational projects are
extremely varied, reflecting
the great diversity of
Europe’s rural areas.


The fields of cooperation are of course closely related to the partners’ regional contexts and local programmes. The type of cooperation project is therefore very similar to the type of rural innovation programmes the LEADER groups run.


Rural development methodologies

Several transnational cooperation projects have joint actions that ENRICH rural development methodologies, and this in a number of fields like mobilising and training local actors or organising actions for specific categories of the population like women or young people:
Three areas, two in Spain (Loz Zélez and Filabres Ahhamilla in Andalusia) and one in France (le Bugey in Rhône-Alpes), are faced like many rural areas with the problem of an ageing population and the departure of young people to urban regions. The aim of their project is to carry out a series of joint actions in order to better involve young people in the local development of their area. These actions are very diversified, ranging from the organisation of transnational work sites for young people to cultural and language exchanges and the organisation of Rural Olympics for young people from the three areas.


Rural tourism

Tourism is by far the sector most often covered in cooperation projects, the main purpose being to develop and/or market together specific tourist products.

  • Thematic tourist roads
    The LEADER areas of Palomares, Valladolid Norte, Canal de Castilla, Aliste, Tábara y Alba (Castile-León, Spain) and Terra Fria (Portugal) have a peculiar heritage: large dovecotes where pigeons and doves were traditionally raised for human consumption and for hunting. The “Palomares” project aims to create a tourist itinerary for the discovery of these exceptional buildings.

  • Taking advantage of historic, cultural or identity-based heritage
    A number of rural areas have Romanesque heritage that is often little known to the public (these are mostly small churches scattered across the country). The “Romanico” project involves the Italian groups of Valle Imagna (Lombardy) and Monte Acuto (Sardinia), and the Spanish group of Canal de Castilla (Castile- León). The aim is to create a “European Agency for Romanesque Art”, a centre documenting all the Romanesque heritage of the partners areas. There are also plans to jointly market and create thematic itineraries.

  • Taking advantage of an industrial or pre-industrial heritage
    Several LEADER areas have old mines that are no longer in use. The groups of Caradon and China Clay Area (United Kingdom) and Montefeltro (Italy) have decided to work together for two main reasons: to develop this particular heritage for tourism purposes and to fight the environmental problems that these old mines cause.

  • Hunting tourism
    The groups Bocage Bourbonnais in Auvergne (France) and Sierra Morena Cordobesa in Andalusia (Spain) both have a lot of possibilities for hunting. Together they have decided to develop hunting and fishing tourism and offer other activities for people who accompany hunters or anglers but are not interested in this type of recreational sport.

  • Marketing tourist products as a group
    The Italian groups of Marsica and Agorá (Abruzzi), and Montagna (Friuli-Venezia Julia), in partnership with the Swedish group of Inlandslaget and the German group Mittlere Elbe (Saxony-Anhalt), have created a “Rural Tourism Network” to market the areas’ tourist products on the Internet. Together the five partners are designing a Web site where their products will be presented according to a common structure; customers will be able to make reservations on line.


Adding value to local products

This is certainly the second most important theme for the LEADER groups, considering that so many want to improve the local added value of typical products like food and crafts.

  • Projects for the direct marketing of local products
    The “Rural Market Place” project is a partnership comprising the LAG Natur und Leben Bregenzerwald in the Vorarlberg district (Austria), the LAG Oderbruch in Brandenburg (Germany) and the LAG Marsica in the Abruzzi (Italy). The aim is to improve the direct relationship between producers and consumers of agri-food products first at the regional level then at the transnational level. Here too, the Internet is the focus of the project, an instrument enabling the system’s farmers to match the supply of products with the demand of restaurant owners or individual consumers.

  • Joint participation in specialised fairs or shows
    The “Itinera” project involves groups in Italy (Moligal in Molise and Basilicata Sud Occidentale in Basilicata), France (Provence- Alpes-Côte d’Azur in Pays de Giono), Portugal (Basto) and Spain (Somontano de Barbastro in Aragon and Aranjuez-Las Vegas in Madrid). These groups would like to share exhibition space in a series of specialised fairs for regional products. The groups also have plans to design a joint stand that can be moved from one exhibition to another.

  • Better structuring of certain specific sectors
    Five producers from the Interior Basque Country (Midi-Pyrénées, France) have together invested in the creation of an outdoor ham drying unit that will enable them to increase their production volume while guaranteeing a better level of quality. They have been participating in exchanges with the Antico Frignano group, near Parma (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), which is interested in promoting this type of collective approach locally. The French producers meanwhile are interested in the Italian group’s marketing experience (creation of a quality brand, promotion, etc.).

  • Taking advantage of specific market niches
    The Samos group and the LEADER collective body Wine Roads of Macedonia in Greece, in partnership with the Spanish groups of Aranjuez-Las Vegas (Community of Madrid), Priorat (Catalonia) and Nordeste de Murcia (Murcia) would like to work together to improve the marketing of wines with a registered designation of origin label. Technical exchanges on the production processes are also planned.


Environment, renewable energies, water and waste management

There are also a number of projects under way in fields related to the protection or value enhancement of the environment.

  • Commercially developing and protecting an exceptional natural heritage
    The “Birdwatching” project involves two areas (East Cork in Ireland and the Po Delta in Italy) where the presence of wetlands attracts large numbers of birds. The two groups want to develop tourism based on this characteristic while at the same time ensuring that it does not cause harm to this exceptional natural environment. They are working together to define methods to achieve this objective and plan to jointly market these bird tourism products, particularly on the leading European market, the United Kingdom.

  • Finding ways to use waste
    The purpose of the “Stoffliche Verwertung nachwachsender Rohstoffe im ländlichen Raum” project is to use the waste from farming, straw in particular, to make insulating products. The groups behind the project, Anhalt-Zerbst (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany) and Laa an der Thaya (Lower-Austria), have complementary experiences in this field and want to develop together a new product for the building market.

  • Protecting rivers and fostering community awareness
    A river runs through the LEADER areas of Redange-Wiltz (Luxembourg) and Val d’Adour (Midi-Pyrénées, France), and the two would like to better protect it, particularly with the active involvement of the local community. The two LAGs are working to define common methodologies for the preservation of riverbanks, using bio-plant engineering and other “soft” techniques. They are also developing teaching aids to make young generations aware of the need to protect water.


source: LEADER Magazine nr.21 - Autumn, 99

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