The focus on sustainability issues in recent years has revived interest in the complex relations between economic development and environmental impact. New characteristics are being attributed to the rural landscape, while agriculture is taking on ever-increasing roles in public intervention policies in land management. This paper lends a further contribution to the wide-ranging discussion on the complex relations between agriculture and conservation of the rural landscape, revisiting the subject in the light of the new context of the multifunctional landscape and heterodox environmental economics. Analysis of both cultural and economic changes suggests the formulation of a new paradigm of sustainable development whose theoretical basis is laid by a multi-objective optimal allocation model. Farming must be remunerated directly by the market with the right combination of intrinsic product quality and attraction capacity thanks to positive externalities and the supply of public goods. This may lead to a reappraisal of whole areas in terms of efficiency and sustainability.
Keywords: Agriculture and environment, Externalities, Land management
Jel Code: Q01, Q20, Q50