Social wasteland

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The abandoned land is fallow agricultural land as a result of abandonment due to changes in the social fabric ( "restructuring") of the rural population. This term from social geography was coined in 1956 by Wolfgang Hartke .

In contrast to the " deserted land " that existed again and again in the Middle Ages, the social wasteland is associated with an increase in the standard of living of the rural and the general population: one can give up more difficult or less productive areas because the remaining agricultural land and imports are Sufficient coverage of the need.


In the 1950s and 1960s, the major structural change began in agriculture with an increasing mechanization (more and bigger machines), intensification (more synthetic fertilizers and pesticides BREED, high-yielding varieties and) as well as rationalization one. Rationalization in agriculture means, among other things, concentration on the most profitable and easiest to cultivate areas. At the same time it came to the concentration of agricultural land in fewer and fewer companies and for farms dying . Agricultural workers migrated to industrial locations through rural exodus .

Decisive for the abandonment of a specific area are usually initially unfavorable location factors (climate, soil, hillside location ), reinforced by agricultural structural factors ( field fragmentation , parcel size , poor development) and / or socio-economic factors (low agricultural income, lack of farm succession ).


Depending on previous use, soil type , moisture conditions, climate and forest near versaumen and overgrown with bushes , the abandoned land more or less quickly and then to the forest, if they are not planted anyway.


The term “social fallow land” is used less often today, although the structural change in agriculture and with it the dropping of land from agricultural use, especially in so-called unfavorable areas, continues unchanged. Problem areas are above all the low mountain ranges, in Baden-Württemberg z. B. the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb . In the Black Forest there are z. B. in the meantime communities with 90% forest share, which has negative effects on the landscape and thus on tourism, but also on the cold air drainage from residential areas. In addition, with the "overgrowth of the landscape", cropland and grassland biotope types, plant communities, and animal and plant species that used to be common in the past are becoming rare or even existentially threatened.

According to the requirements of the EU ( GAP reform 2005), agricultural holdings - insofar as they want to receive EU subsidies - must keep their land open in the future ( e.g. mulch grassland once a year ), even if they no longer cultivate it regularly.