Shrinkage of the developed space in central Russia: Population dynamics and land use in rural areas
The article is based on an integrated approach that includes joint consideration of shrinkage of traditional agricultural land use, an increase in the share of small and abandoned villages, and expansion of new types of recreational use of rural areas around Moscow and Moscow oblast. The use in the article of statistical indicators for federal subjects and municipal districts, as well as satellite images, gives a multiscale and fractional picture of the shrinkage of land use, which in recent years more and more clearly geographically replicates the historical process of development of these territories, only with the opposite sign. Agricultural production is “shifting” to areas with better natural conditions, including within regions. The tendency of its concentration in the suburbs with accumulated investments, labor resources, sales opportunities, and infrastructure is gradually changing to development in the areas with better soils, sometimes remote from cities. The population, however, continues to concentrate in cities and suburbs of regional centers, which contributes to shrinkage of the inhabited space. These multidirectional trends are confirmed by statistical calculations for municipal districts for the period from 1990 to 2017. The results are illustrated and confirmed by maps, based on satellite images. The maps show arable agricultural and fallow lands, as well as the spread of abandoned and small villages. Calculations for municipal districts based on information obtained from maps make it possible to correct statistical indicators and see the real changes in the rural settlement pattern and land use. The cartographic method also made it possible to identify the possibilities and limitations of redevelopment of rural areas by urban residents, including not only the expanding areas of second home settlements (dacha settlements), but also the dachas of urban residents in depopulated villages.