The PLUREL project: Peri-urban Land Use Relationships – Strategies and Sustainability Assessment Tools for Urban-Rural Linkages is a European integrated research project within the European Commissions sixth framework programme.

PLUREL: Peri-urban Land Use Relationships – Strategies and Sustainability Assessment Tools for Urban – Rural Linkages

Plurel is a large research project funded within the 6th Research Framework Programme of the European Union. 31 partner organisations from 14 European countries and China participate in the project. It is led by the University of Copenhagen. The project started in 2007 and is on-going.

Challenges of Urbanisation

Urbanisation is arguably the most significant process of land use change in Europe. Over 70% of Europe’s population is now living in urban areas, and these in turn have grown by almost 80% over the last fifty years (EEA, 2006). The most obvious signs of this are the spread of built-up areas, and the creation of large transport networks, but the establishment of recreational facilities such as theme parks and golf courses and the conversion of farmsteads into residences and hobby farms in near-urban landscapes are also very visible markers of this drift to urbanisation.

The changing nature of the relationship between rural and urban land uses has deep consequences both for human quality of life and for the environment. To understand the processes that drive these changes, we need to improve our knowledge and create better tools to assess the future social, environmental and economic impacts of these changes. Only then can we identify effective strategies for the planning of sustainable land use systems.


The PLUREL project will develop the new strategies and planning and forecasting tools that are essential for developing sustainable rural-urban land use relationships. These strategies and tools, generic in nature, will support the analysis of urbanisation trends in the EU so that ways can be identified of both supporting this process and mitigating its negative impacts.

In this way the PLUREL tools will help improve the quality of life of the population living in cities as well as in the peri-urban and rural surroundings. PLUREL will evaluate costs for the implementation of these strategies, and help stakeholders to better understand, plan and forecast the interactions between urban, peri-urban and rural areas.

RUR – Rural-Urban Region

PLUREL’s main subject of study is the Rural-Urban Region (RUR). This is based on the concept of a Functional Urban Region – an urban core and its surrounding commuting ring – which can extend to include both the rural and peri-urban regions. The RUR, however, extends beyond today’s rings of intense interaction with the core city and includes areas of recreational use, food supply and nature reserve functions in predominantly rural areas.