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The paper highlights key problems of rural development in the context of economic and environmental crisis, with focus on rural areas in Serbia. It emphasizes the link between sustainable rural development and environmental protection, particularly in the fields of organic agriculture, small organic farming and agro-eco tourism. It analyses legislative and strategic documents regulating this issue on universal, European and national level, making suggestions to improve their application. Obstacles for sustainable rural development include: uncultivated agricultural lands, soil pollution, insufficient irrigation or draining, agricultural lands fragmentation, poor infrastructure, inadequate tax policy, uncompleted restitutions, long probate proceedings and financially uncertain position of land-owners. Some of them have environmental impacts and can be resolved by suitable policy and legislation, strategic planning, environmental education and financial stimuli for green agriculture. The paper suggests legislators and policy makers in the areas of: sustainable development, taxes, agriculture, green economy and environment protection to analyse more profoundly key problems of rural development and their linkage to nature conservation. When it comes to practice, it suggests which legal documents should be applied in order to achieve successful, sustainable and environmentally acceptable development of rural areas. The paper contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between sustainable rural development and environment protection, emphasizing the possibility to preserve nature and increase incomes of rural communities through green agriculture, small farm production and eco-tourism. It also states that current legislative framework provides preconditions for resolving the issues that might appear within, suggesting key steps for its future implementation.
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