Designing Landscapes for Performance Based on Emerging Principles in Landscape Ecology
Sarah Taylor Lovell, University of Vermont
Douglas M. Johnston, Iowa State University
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We have proposed a framework for transforming landscapes to improve performance by integrating ecological principles into landscape design. This effort would focus on the development of multifunctional landscapes, guided by the rapidly growing knowledge base of ecosystem services provided by landscape features. Although the conventional approach to landscape ecology is based on a model that assumes poor ecological quality in the human-dominated matrix, a review of recent literature reveals important opportunities to improve the quality of the landscape matrix by increasing spatial heterogeneity through the addition of seminatural landscape elements designed to provide multiple ecosystem services. Taken alone, these individual elements might not appear to have a large impact on the environment, but when considered together within the entire landscape, the contribution could be significant, particularly when these elements are intentionally designed to improve landscape performance. Previous attention has focused on the value of large patches of native vegetation for conservation efforts. These efforts have included preserving those areas that still remain, restoring those that once existed, and providing connectivity between them. But great opportunities exist to improve the quality of the matrix by designing multifunctional elements throughout the landscape. Through a synthesis of knowledge in landscape architecture and landscape ecology, we have demonstrated some important applications of the landscape performance framework in urban and agricultural settings. Based on a review of the literature, we have suggested several methods of evaluating and monitoring landscape performance to determine the relative success of a designed landscape.
agroecosystem; design guidelines; ecological design; ecosystem services; human-dominated; multifunctional landscape; multifunctionality; urban agriculture; urban ecology.