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Population / food / health

China's food security

European rural development

Regional development


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Research Interests

European Rural Development

Between June 2001 and December 2002 I was leading the European Rural Development (ERD) Project of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

The main idea of the project was to analyze the demographic, economic, social, cultural and political development of rural areas in Europe within a truly multi-disciplinary framework. This should help to overcome the predominantly agriculture-based perspectives of current rural development studies.


A major component of the project were case studies of supposedly innovative rural development initiatives outside the agricultural sector - such as initiatives in farm-based tourism, in rural industry, or in new rural services. The project was able to finish 10 (of the initially planned 12) case studies - ranging from a high-tech silicon waver producer in a small village of rural Austria to a wood processing network in Finland.

My small team (Mika Aromaki, Ingrid Kamminger, Adriana Pontieri) and I also started to develop the Rural Analysis and Planning System (RAPS), which was intended to become a tool for political decision makers. It includes a very detailed database for Austria at the municipality level ("Gemeindedatenbank") to provide users with detailed comparative information on trends in rural areas. We planned to link this database with a rule-based expert system, which should suggest development options based on the specific conditions of a particular region.

Unfortunately, the project, which was planned to be completed by the end of 2005, was terminated prematurely according to a Financial Expenditure Reduction Plan of the Institute. Parts of the original ERD website are still available at the IIASA archive, which outlines main ideas and concepts of the project and also provides some preliminary results and data sets.


Related Publications

Heilig, Gerhard K. (2002):

Multifunctionality of Landscapes and Ecosystem Services with Respect to Rural Development. In: Helming, K. / Wiggering, H. (Eds.): Sustainable Development of Multifunctional Landscapes. Berlin, New York (Springer Verlag)

Pontieri, Adriana / Aromäki, Mika / Heilig, Gerhard K. (2002):

Woodpoint - A network of mechanical wood processors. Vienna, Austria (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Interim Report IR-02-038)

Pontieri, Adriana / Jervell, Anne M. / Puschman, Oskar / Heilig, Gerhard K. (2002):

Rosetten - Innovative farm businesses in Norway. Vienna, Austria (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Interim Report IR-02-067)




Browse the old ERD Web Site (now discontinued): Browse


Copyright © 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved.

Updated: 9 October 2013