The Ecosystem Services framework and the concept of Landscape: towards holistic territorial approaches linking pattern, processes and people across Europe

José Muñoz-Rojas, WSL, ICAAM-Universidade de Évora,

Teresa Pinto-Correia, ICAAM-Universidade de Évora,

Per Angelstam, School for Forest Management, Faculty of Forest Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),

Marine Elbakidze, School for Forest Management, Faculty of Forest Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),

Diaz-Maroto, Ignacio J., University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain,


Ecosystem Services aim to embed ecological goals onto political-economic decisions. However, they fail to capture the complexity in social-ecological interactions, leading to fragmented land-use decision-making and valuation. Consideration of landscape´s multiple dimensions represents a pathway forward. This symposium will discuss the advantages and limitations of the concept of landscape and landscape ecology, to facilitate the contribution of the Ecosystem Services framework towards devising holistic territorial approaches that can underpin sustainability by better linking together pattern, processes and people.


Ecosystem Services are defined as the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. This concept has the potential to drive a paradigmatic shift in land-use decision making via governance, management and planning (Albert et al, 2014; Förster et al, 2015). Ecosystem Services are nowadays considered as the key framework to embed ecological goals onto political-economic decisions. However, this concept has been challenged by critiques of scientific, operational and ideological nature (Norgaard, 2010; Hauck et al, 2013; Jax et al, 2013). A key critique is the decoupling of the natural and human dimensions of land-use, and the neglect of landscape stewardship challenges that are inherent to the Ecosystem Services framework (Schröter et al, 2014).

This is most relevant for territories where ecological and cultural values are considered relevant due to their long and rich human history, such as cultural landscapes spanning from the Mediterranean (Blondel, 2006) to the boreal biomes (Sporrong, 1998). Europe is indeed a continent where the cultural, natural and social components of the territory, including traditional landscape stewardship approaches, are inextricably inter-linked. This has resulted in a rich and diverse mosaic of land-use systems that is however declining. Furthermore, these three territorial aspects, cultural, natural and social, are coincident with the three pillars in the definition of Landscapes by the European Landscape Convention (EC, 1999), and also with the frameworks of sustainable development and social-ecological resilience, both of which underpin territorial strategic governance in Europe (EC, 2011).

We thus argue that landscapes, as coupled social-ecological systems, underpin the multiple services, values and benefits arising from the complex interactions between European Societies and their natural and cultural environments, with landscape ecology potentially providing with the theoretical basis for integrated territorial approaches. However, knowledge co-production ought to be sought by engaging with scientists in other relevant disciplines and also with other key stakeholders operating at different scales.

Consequently, this symposium will foster discussions on the opportunities to combine the Ecosystem Service and landscape concepts into a conceptual and operational tool to disentangle the complex territorial relations between humans and nature across Europe (Bastian et al, 2014). Furthermore, we would like to extend this discussion to all relevant integrative territorial frameworks for land-use decision making, including landscape stewardship, that show potential to enhancing sustainable development and social-ecological resilience. Ultimately, we expect that discussion will advance in the generation of new knowledge that is useful to disentangle more effective pathways to combine pattern and process with people and action.

We welcome submission of papers using both theoretical and empirical approaches looking at advancing either (or various) of the following research questions:

  1. What is the scope for the landscape concept to resolve key challenges and barriers in the Ecosystem Services framework that may hinder land-use decision-making towards sustainable development and resilience?
  2. Which are the main territorial challenges in the European context that can be addressed by integrating the Ecosystem Services framework and the Landscape concept towards holistic land-use decision making?
  3. How useful are Integrative territorial frameworks to generate more effective models for European land-use decision making that better integrate social and ecological systems?
  4. What are the barriers and bridges to integrate researchers’ and practitioners’ knowledge production; especially in relation to landscape approaches?

What can participants expect to learn?

Those presenting and attending this symposium are expected to benefit from the following learning objectives:

  1. Advancing knowledge on the potential of integrating Ecosystem Services and the concept of Landscape towards integrative territorial frameworks aimed to improve land-use decision-making and to better link pattern and process with people,
  2. Learning from exemplary case studies across Europe that have successfully applied territorial frameworks underpinned by objectives of sustainability and resilience,
  3. Becoming actively involved in the creation of a European network of researchers (and practitioners) developing integrative territorial and landscape approaches.


A communication strategy is envisaged consisting of the following points:

  1. The symposium will be structured in three sub-sessions; a first one focusing on 8 key-note oral presentations (12 minutes each) addressing the three main questions posed for discussion, a poster sub-session featuring specific regional case studies, and a discussion group setting a working group linked to IALE-Europe.
  2. A special issue in the Journal of Landscape Ecology will be promoted. This special issue will contain a paper on each of the key-note oral presentations, plus selected papers from the posters and contributors to the discussion group.
  3. The working group shall be open to all members of IALE-Europe and to any others interested, also including actors in decision making arenas.


Oral presentations
Towards holistic territorial approaches linking pattern, processes and people: experiences from landscape approach initiatives in Europe’s West and East
Per Angelstam and Marine Elbakidze Swedish...
Ecosystem services – a new Esperanto to facilitate participatory planning processes?
Marcin Spyra - a Christine Fürst - a Janina...
Spatial units for the assessment of cultural ecosystem services: the cultural heritage value of Scottish landscapes
N. Stanik 1,2, I. Aalders 1 1 The James Hutton...
Ecosystem services rural landscape in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula during the last century: A territorial approach of processes and people by the landscape ecology
Diaz-Maroto, Ignacio J. Departamento de...
Imagining novel landscape approaches for territorial development in the Mediterranean (and beyond)
José Muñoz-Rojas* & Teresa Pinto-Correia* *...
Revisiting futures: time and culture in landscape studies
Hannes Palang et al Tallinn University
Landscape-based approaches to ecosystem services modelling across scales
Benjamin Burkhard Institute of Physical Geography...
Modelling and Mapping key Ecosystem Services. The case of Scotland
Alessandro Gimona, The James Hutton Institute,...
Mapping of land cover/ use changes for the evaluation of ecosystems and their services in the Mediterranean River catchments, (W. Greece)
Aikaterini Kostara1, P. Manolaki1, Andrianos...
Spatial information on ecosystem services for improved landscape decision making
Louise Willemen Faculty of Geo-Information...
How European Landscape transitions affect the provision of landscape services
Theo van der Sluis, Alterra Wageningen University...
Non-commercial evaluation of forest service’s: variability in function of geographical region and natural forest type in the northwest Iberian
Diaz-Maroto, Ignacio J. Departamento de...
Community level patterns of landscape services across multifunctional landscapes in rural Tanzania
Nora Fagerholm1), Salla Eilola1), Danielson...
Landscape Identity and Recreation in the cultural landscape of Monte Verde, Minas Gerais , Brazil
Bachi, Laura; Carvalho Ribeiro, Sónia...
Assessing the provision of ecosystem services along an urban-rural gradient in Central Spain
Herrero-Jáuregui C1, Arnaiz-Schmitz C2, Herrera...
A socio-ecological approach to support the management of High Nature Value farmlands: lessons from the study of an extensive sheep grazing system
Aitor Andonegi (1, 2), Eneko Garmendia (2,3) and...
How do farmers’ representations influence landscapes? A multi-scale approach combining mental modelling and forest monitoring in South-western France
Julien Blanco, UMR 1201 Dynafor, INRA (French...
Multi-criteria evaluation of landscapes general resilience and potentials
Ksenia Merekalova, Anastasia Kharitonova Moscow...
Highly valued agricultural landscapes and their ecosystem services in the suburban areas, the example of Wrocław, Poland.
Iga Solecka, Wrocław University of Environmental...
Ecosystem services deficit areas in urban cross-boundary landscape context. Spatial analysis of green and grey systems of Cieszyn and Český Těšín.
(1) Marcin Spyra, (2,3) Luis Inostroza, (4) Adam...
Provision of entertainment cultural ecosystem services in the cross-boundary landscape
Marcin Spyra a Daniele La Rosa b Christine Fürst...
Assessment of ecosystem services provided by semi-natural grasslands as a basis for promoting conservation measures.
M.Villoslada1, K.Sepp1, R.G.H.Bunce1, R.D. Ward2...
Poster presentations
Linking Ecosystem Services and territorial development through the agrarian system approach - A case study at the Nicaraguan agricultural frontier
Gert Van Hecken, Institute of Development Policy...