The work presents current problems and dilemma of agricultural and rural development in the mountain areas situated in the Polish Carpathians. The analysis comprises the most important issues determining the development of the Carpathian rural areas, which result from the specific character of natural and economic conditions for agricultural production including depopulation of peripheral villages, desagrarization and rural dwellers' emigration for profit. The problem of diversified agricultural and forest production space was analysed against the background of natural and physiographic conditions of agronomic production in the spatial aspect and according to hypsometric zones (separated every 50 m). It was demonstrated how agricultural land has been utilized in current economic conditions with changing relative elevation on which crops are situated. Attention was paid to diminished agricultural biodiversity and progressing setting aside and fallowing of ploughlands in higher, hypsometric zones, which still may be cultivated. Desagrarization refers also to abandoning grass eating animal, particularly sheep and cattle husbandry, which has its negative economic, ecological and cultural consequences (including protection of cultural landscape and ethnographic values of the mountains). Assuming the principles of maintained sustainable development and protection of the mountain natural environment, the grass eating livestock deficiency reaches over 90% of the initial state. It means that for organizational and natural reasons doubling the current livestock is possible and ecologically acceptable. Economic disparity resulting from difficult farming conditions in the mountains is compensated to a considerable degree by intensified off-farm activities and rural dwellers' entrepreneurial activities. The phenomenon reveals considerable sub-regional variability and to a great extent depends on the localization of villages (districts) in the vicinity of economic centres, i. e. bigger cities of the sub-region.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.