An area-based approach takes a small, homogenous, socially cohesive territory, often characterised by common traditions, a local identity, a sense of belonging or common needs and expectations, as the target area for policy implementation. Having such an area as a reference facilitates the recognition of local strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, endogenous potential and the identification of major bottlenecks for sustainable development.
Area-based essentially means local. This approach is likely to work better than other approaches because it allows actions to be tailored more precisely to suit real needs and local competitive advantage. The area chosen must have sufficient coherence and critical mass in terms of human, financial and economic resources to support a viable local development strategy. It does not have to correspond to predefined administrative boundaries.
The definition of a ‘local area' is neither universal nor static. On the contrary, it evolves and changes with broader economic and social change, the role of farming, land management and environmental concerns, and general perceptions about rural areas.
In order to achieve economic and social development the Local Action Groups area must be small enough to be cohesive and large enough to ensure that development can be generated from within the area. The generation of development from within the area depends on the capacity of its inhabitants.