Modelling of socio-ecological connectivity. The rural-urban network in the surroundings of Madrid (Central Spain)

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Díaz, Pablo
Ruiz-Labourdette, Diego
Herrero Jáuregui, Cristina
Molina, Mercedes
Montes, Carlos
Schmitz García, Maria Fe
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As most of Europe’s metropolitan landscapes grow, a change is occurring in their surrounding rural environment. The consequences thereof mainly involve losses of traditional land uses and changes in the socioecomic structures of the local population. The lack of coupling ‘urban society-countryside’ can be considered to constitute a driving force of this process. The present paper focuses upon the rural-urban network around the metropolis of Madrid (Central Spain). We developed a quantitative model to explain the socio-ecological rural-urban linkages, taking into account the influence of the metropolis in the network of neighbouring municipalities. The results show a rural landscape gradient ranging from silvo-pastoral to agricultural land uses and maintaining different interactions with the local socioeconomy. Urban-rural polarisation of the territory and accessibility to the metropolis are the main factors influencing the landscape dynamics. Territorial cohesion among municipalities and connectivity with the metropolis are factors determining the socio-ecological structure. The agricultural area presents good social cohesion, but a weak connection with the City. The silvo-pastoral landscape, on the contrary, maintains prominent links with the metropolis, but a non-significant interconnection between the small towns. The model tested constitutes a useful tool for analysing socio-ecological connectivity and for quantifying, designing and promoting territorial cohesion policies.