Marginal Mountainous Areas: Starting Over from Smart Communities—The Case Study of Seren del Grappa
In most mountainous areas, the socioeconomic changes over the past 50 years have favored settlement dynamics and development models without considering the criteria of sustainability. This is, for example, the case for the intensively touristic exploitation of the most popular destinations or the abandonment of marginal areas due to the concentration of the population in urban areas. Mountainous areas are rich in the natural and cultural values, which provide long-term benefits also to cities and towns, but they are particularly vulnerable and sometimes inhospitable. The survival chances of vital communities in marginal mountainous territories depend on a developmental approach that considers how to handle economic growth, environmental conservation, identity and cultural issues, as well as enhancing the endogenous potential in a common way. This contribution presents the results of an exemplary strategic plan for Seren del Grappa, a small village located in the northeastern Italian Alps. The definition of a shared vision and strategic guidelines for the future of the territory, up to the implementation of the first concrete projects, were developed through a participatory process involving the local population, the administrators and the economic operators. Moreover, the article includes a description of the applied methodology, as well as a discussion of essential prerequisites, successes and weaknesses of the process. The authors emphasize the importance of paying particular attention to mountainous areas from which innovative and self-sustainable development processes can start. Furthermore, they highlight the mountainous communities’ peculiarities which make them “smart communities”.
KeywordsMountain marginal areas Smart communities Sustainable development Unlocking development potential Participatory strategic plan
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