Access

Accessibility is defined by Mitchell and Town (in [3]) as "the ability of people to reach destinations at which they can carry out a given activity." Moseley et al. [23] use this definition to describe a form of physical accessibility. The other form of accessibility that they distinguish is social. It refers to the fact that sometimes individuals must fulfill certain requirements to reach something they want.

In this Handbook, the first form of accessibility is used, as far as it concerns agriculture. The central idea of accessibility is the capacity to overcome distance. Hence it refers to the term "ability" [23]. The interaction between the destinations and the people is an important factor of accessibility. Accessibility is determined by the nature of the destination, but also by the people who (desire to) reach the destination to carry out a certain activity. As far as accessibility is concerned, both aspects have to be taken into account.

In land-use planning, the accessibility of a certain location (e.g., a field with cattle) can be improved, according to the wishes of the people who need to have access to the location. Improvement can take place in many different ways, ranking from the removal of physical barriers to the relocation of the land.

For farming, accessibility is very important. At the field level, all lots have to be accessible, either for small-scale activities or for large-scale mechanized activities. The activity carried out on the field determines the requirements with regard to accessibility. In practical terms, this means, for example, that for a lot situated near a road, it is possible to get from the road onto the field without having to cross barriers such as ditches or fences.

At the farm level, the transport of raw materials and finished products determines economic survivability. The importance of accessibility at the farm level depends on the farming system. In modern farming systems, the trucks that transport cattle fodder to the farm and milk from the farm must have access to the right location on the farm. In less developed systems, with extremes such as autarkic systems, accessibility is less important for economic survivability. Land-use planning at the farm level has roughly the same tasks as at the field level. The difference is the scale of the measures. A road from a farm to a local market is more complicated and has more side effects than a road from the farm buildings to a field. On top of that, regional development also applies to this level of planning and land-use planning has to interact with regional economic development strategies (see Section 2.2.4).

The access to a farm from a local market (and vice versa) is very important for the economic development of an area. First, there have to be roads and waterways before the potential of an area can be fully realized. In areas with less potential, but better transportation systems, farming may be a more attractive enterprise [24].

Large-scale economic principles on the regional level lead to more complexity. Land-use planning is one of the many instruments that determine the use of land on this scale. Factors such as the services provided in a certain area and the number of food-producing factories in the region are important. Access to these facilities is crucial for farming in developed countries. On a regional level, access is a key factor to provide farming with the means to play its role in the economic system. However, access on this level is more a matter of regional development and large-scale land-use planning than of land-use planning for farming.

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