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The European rural model

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Montaña de Navarra (Spain) and
Livradois-Forez (France):

Long-standing cooperation on
methodological issues


Seldom can two areas from two different countries boast direct, close and long-time cooperation in rural development methodology. Eric Cournut of the Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Park in Auvergne and Javier Velázquez of the CEDERNA-GARALUR association in the Mountains of Navarra explain the ins and outs of the approach.

"The LEADER I programme had already provided the coordinators and presidents of our two LAGs several opportunities to meet and discuss issues. Because of our proximity, it soon became apparent that we shared some strong elements:

  • the Livradois-Forez Park and the CEDERNA-GARALUR area of intervention are two mountain areas, part rural in the "conventional" sense (massive departure of farmers, low population, very rich heritage) and part industrialised (old industry with a large number of workers and companies, important industrial and non- industrial know-how, a spirit of enterprise and a capacity to innovate on the part of the workers and managers);

  • we are two large areas on which the LEADER groups wanted to coordinate a comprehensive rural development programme, implemented on the ground by teams of development agents working on themes (in the Park and in CEDERNA) and on general issues (in the communities of the municipalities of Livradois-Forez and in the 8 'comarcas' of the Mountains of Navarra);

  • the two groups share the same local development philosophy (putting people at the heart of the project, using networks, encouraging initiatives and accompanying them until they become independent, etc.);

  • they are at all times concerned with maintaining a solid team of development workers who, even if they work in different structures, share the same methods, pursue the same strategy and the same objectives, regularly discuss their job and their actions (for that the two LAGs have benefited from the help of the same training body since 1995: the Association pour la Formation en Milieu Rural d'Etcharry dans le Pays Basque française / The Rural Training Association of Etcharry in the French Basque Country).

Our cooperation has therefore been based on the fact that the two teams of development workers know one another well. This they achieved by meeting several times and sharing experiences and methods. For this, we believe that the following is necessary:

  • the two sides need to keep one another informed about the actions in their respective areas. So far, these exchanges have occurred at a series of meetings and the groups have also sent one another documents that they have published. The aim is to establish and regularly update a database of actions by each LAG, available in Spanish and French. The description of each action would be written by the development agents themselves;

  • each time that a development worker is interested in a process, working method or idea for an action, he/she must ask for additional information via the Internet, by mail or by telephone. If need be, the workers should take a car and drive there. Thus, a group of elected officials of Navarra went to Livradois-Forez 'to dissect' the way in which a Regional Nature Park works, while two small groups of practitioners regularly discuss their methods and actions to protect and take advantage of their natural heritage on sites of great environmental interest (the last meeting discussed the 'Foz de Lumbier' in Navarra).

The two LAGs are planning discussions on the development of theatre in rural areas, on cooperation between two relatively identical associations of rural hotel owners and on the best way to structure a tourism partnership in an area.

In our two areas we are trying to do what the LEADER Observatory has been doing throughout Europe, and on methodology we can learn a lot from one another."


source: LEADER Magazine nr.25 - Winter 2000/2001

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