Israel's countryside and agricultural land has undergone many changes in the past twenty years. The countryside in central Israel has been exposed to extremely heavy land development pressures. These pressures have had far-reaching consequences which are expressed in changes in employment patterns and the reallocation of agricultural land for nonagricultural enterprises. In response to these trends, changes have occurred in the national and district planning authorities aimed at the reinforcement and preservation of agricultural land and open spaces with an emphasis on environmental issues, the countryside's landscape and tourism (ILA National Outline Plan no. 31, 35; District Outline Plan no. 3/21). For the purpose of efficiently managing land resources in Israel's countryside and for the purpose of implementing a policy preserving the countryside's landscape and agricultural uses - it is important to clarify the opinions of the countryside's residents regarding the region's future and the conditions required for the preservation of agricultural pursuits.
The main purpose of this project is to identify and characterize appropriate patterns for developing the countryside as seen by the residents of central Israel's countryside. Additionally, this study aims to identify the conditions and incentives which the residents think will allow those who pursue agriculture to continue in their pursuits.
The survey population consisted of the residents of central Israel's countryside. Several samplings were taken from several settlement types within the local council of South Sharon: five moshavim (Givat Chen, Sdeh-Varburg, Neve-Yamin, Sdei-Chemed, Hagor), three kibbutzim (Ramat Hakovesh, Eyal, Einat) and two community settlements (Matan and Nirit). The study employed two surveys of two different types: in the primary survey personal interviews were conducted with the residents of the settlements selected for the study. During 2007, 199 interviews were conducted – a total of 67.2% of the sample population. A second mail survey was conducted among residents of the three kibbutzim Eyal, Einat and Ramat Hakovesh between the summer and fall months of 2007 (97 effective questionnaires – 32.8% of the sample population). The questionnaire used in the study had several versions, which were used in accordance with the settlement type and survey type. A set of photographs was used as well. The photographs represented different building types that shape the countryside's landscape and they were used as supplementary tools to help the respondents understand the questions presented to them.