Changes in the rural landscape

Depopulation

Rural depopulation is a major problem as there are fewer jobs due the increased use of machines. As agriculture is the main industry in rural areas, people are forced to leave in search of employment.

As a result the population is ‘greying’, ie there are more older people and schools may be forced to close because of reduced numbers of pupils which leads to further job losses. As there is less money in the area, other shops and services may be negatively impacted and may also close.

Increasingly many homes in rural communities are being bought as second or holiday homes by people who live permanently in urban areas.

This also leads to various problems in the countryside. House prices rise as the area becomes more popular, which makes it difficult for local people, especially first time buyers, to afford to buy homes in their local area, and may force them to move away.

This further impacts upon local services as the owners of these holiday homes are not there all the time and so, as houses lie empty, services are not being used.

Removal of hedgerows

In order to increase field size to use large machinery, hedgerows, used to separate fields, have been removed. This has had both positive and negative effects.

Positive and negative effects of removing hedgerows

Positive effectsNegative effects
Larger field size means more space to grow more cropsLoss of hedgerows leads to a loss of animal habitat, which leads to a loss of biodiversity
Increased yield means increased profit for farmersLoss of shelter belts protecting crops from the wind as hedgerows are removed
Larger machinery could be used making work faster and more efficientNegative impact on natural scenery
Farmers save money as they do not have the costs of upkeep on the hedgesGreater soil erosion as the roots help to bind the soil together and keep it in place