Rural territories cover 91% of EU27 area and 56% of population live in there. Common Agricultural Policy pays more and more attention to these territories, in particular to their development. In this work it is argued that a generic agricultural and/or socioeconomic characterization might be not sufficient to understand these territories, to formulate appropriate policies and ultimately to evaluate the effectiveness of such policy measures. In our view, the “agricultural” character is closely related to the farmland natural attributes as well as to the specific farming activities while the “rural” character is more related to the functional relationships with the urban areas. Hence, a methodology is discussed to classify a geographical space based on a simple measure of urbanization and to provide a classification that considers multiple degrees of urbanization and/or rurality. The method is applied to municipality data for the Lombardy region to distinguish network-based urban systems from mono-centric cities and to classify "non-urban" territories accordingly, separating rural from peri-urban areas. Statistical tests are conducted to study the extent to which the different typologies of territories identified differ with respect to a set of agricultural characteristics. Substantial differences in agriculture are highlighted between urban and rural areas as well as among "non-urban" areas, suggesting that more rigorous definitions of rural can best used to program policies for sustainable local development.
- spatial statistics
- urban structure