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Exploring ecosystem-change and society through a landscape lens: recent progress in European landscape research

Tobias Plieninger, University of Copenhagen
Thanasis Kizos, University of the Aegean
Claudia Bieling, University of Hohenheim
Laurence Le Dû-Blayo, Université Rennes 2
Marie-Alice Budniok, European Landowners' Organization
Matthias Bürgi, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Carole L. Crumley, Uppsala University
Geneviève Girod, CIME
Pip Howard, Forest Communication Network Ltd.
Jan Kolen, Leiden University
Tobias Kuemmerle, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Grega Milcinski, SINERGISE
Hannes Palang, Tallinn University
Kathrin Trommler, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Peter H. Verburg, VU University Amsterdam


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Landscapes are closely linked to human well-being, but they are undergoing rapid and fundamental change. Understanding the societal transformation underlying these landscape changes, as well as the ecological and societal outcomes of landscape transformations across scales are prime areas for landscape research. We review and synthesize findings from six important areas of landscape research in Europe and discuss how these findings may advance the study of ecosystem change and society and its thematic key priorities. These six areas are: (1) linkages between people and the environment in landscapes, (2) landscape structure and land-use intensity, (3) long-term landscape history, (4) driving forces, processes, and actors of landscape change, (5) landscape values and meanings, and (6) landscape stewardship. We propose that these knowledge areas can contribute to the study of ecosystem change and society, considering nested multiscale dynamics of social-ecological systems; the stewardship of these systems and their ecosystem services; and the relationships between ecosystem services, human well-being, wealth, and poverty. Our synthesis highlights that knowledge about past and current landscape patterns, processes, and dynamics provides guidance for developing visions to support the sustainable stewardship of social-ecological systems under future conditions.

Key words

ecosystem services; European Landscape Convention; landscape governance; landscape stewardship; landscape values; multiscale landscape modeling; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087