Towards holistic territorial approaches linking pattern, processes and people: experiences from landscape approach initiatives in Europe’s West and East

Authors and Affiliations: 

Per Angelstam and Marine Elbakidze
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Forest Sciences, School for Forest Management, Forest-Landscape-Society network, PO Box 43, SE-739 21 Skinnskatteberg, Sweden

Corresponding author: 
Per Angelstam

Forests and woodlands form the natural potential vegetation in most of Europe. After a long and gradual domestication into resilient traditional cultural landscapes surrounded by intact forests, the contemporary focus on economic development has led to undesired effects. This involves human migration from rural to urban areas, loss of natural forest and cultural woodlands, modified natural and anthropogenic processes as well as loss of species. In response to this, policies about rural development, biodiversity and ecosystem services have emerged. The green infrastructure concept is a tool for co-ordinated actions among different sectors to maintain natural capital. However, changing undesired trajectories is difficult. This calls for landscape stewardship approaches that consider the states and trends of landscapes as social-ecological systems, and which can foster collaborative regionally adapted spatial planning. We summarise results from systematic place-based analyses of a suite of landscapes in Europe’s West and East. First, we review results from diagnoses of the current states of both ecological and social systems, and identify challenges regarding the maintenance of functional green infrastructures. Second, we review traditional and emerging treatments in terms of landscape stewardship concepts. A key challenge to advance landscape stewardship is to integrate evidence-based knowledge with collaborative learning, education and public awareness. This requires transdisciplinary research, and thus funding for social and ecological system research, for stakeholder engagement, as well as for integration among them. Improved collaboration by sharing both success stories and failures among landscape approach initiatives representing concepts such as Biosphere Reserve, Model Forest and Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research platforms are urgently needed.


Angelstam, P., Elbakidze, M. 2017. Forest landscape stewardship for functional green infrastructures in Europe’s West and East: diagnosing and treating social-ecological systems. In: Plieninger, T. and Bieling, C. (eds.) The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship, in press (due June 2017). Cambridge University Press.

Angelstam, P., M. Grodzynskyi, K. Andersson, R. Axelsson, M. Elbakidze, A. Khoroshev, I. Kruhlov, and V. Naumov. 2013. Measurement, collaborative learning and research for sustainable use of ecosystem services: Landscape concepts and Europe as laboratory. AMBIO 42(2): 129–145.

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