Agricultural Change and Social Sustainability in Rural New Zealand

By Michael P. Cameron, Patrick Barrett, William Cochrane and Kellie McNeill.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social sustainability in rural areas is a topic of considerable interest to policymakers. Changing agricultural practices and rural population decline are important issues for social sustainability. This paper investigates recent agricultural, land use, and population trends and considers how these trends are associated with change in communities in the rural Waikato region of New Zealand. A combination of quantitative and qualitative data is used to describe both the current situation and expectations for future change.

We show that the region has been subject to considerable changes in agricultural practice over recent decades. These changes have been associated with changes in population dynamics and have implications for social sustainability. While the key drivers of agricultural change have been economic, including changes in the relative returns of dairying, forestry, and dry stock farming, and changes in land values, the consequences of agricultural change have been most keenly felt in the social sphere. For instance, a declining rural population has led to changes in community social support, declining opportunities for socialization through group activities, declining participation in schools and churches, and so on. These effects are compounded by changes in commuting patterns, farm ownership patterns, and changes in the nature of rural service towns.

Keywords: Agricultural Change, Land Use Change, Social Sustainability, New Zealand

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.77-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 823.146KB).

Dr. Michael P. Cameron

Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Michael Cameron gained his PhD from University of Waikato in 2007, with a thesis titled “The Relationship between Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Rural Thailand”. His current research interests include population, health and development issues, including the economics of HIV/AIDS, the economics of landmine clearance, and regional economic development. He has completed commissioned research projects in the areas of health and development for a wide range of national and regional government and non-government organizations.

Dr. Patrick Barrett

Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Patrick Barrett has published in the area of ethnographic labour market analysis and employment policy, as well as population ageing and social policy.

William Cochrane

Lecturer, Department of Societies and Cultures, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Kellie McNeill

Lecturer, Department of Societies and Cultures, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand


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