Photo: Claudia Bieling

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

Landscapes are closely linked to human well-being, but they are undergoing rapid and fundamental change.

Tobias Plieninger and co-authors review  landscape research in Europe and conclude that landscapes are a useful boundary object in studying complex interactions between human activities and the environment. The review shows that drivers such as agricultural industrialization and urbanization, as well as the preservation approach to landscape governance, have led to a fundamental decoupling of humans and the environment in landscapes. Therefore, landscape research is important, since it can help identify options for recoupling of social and ecological subsystems, and develop visions for sustainable stewardship. However, landscape research does not adequately address issues of power and justice, although they are important for studies of ecosystem change and society. Therefore, the authors conclude that landscape research and studies of ecosystem change and society are complementary and would both benefit from a mutual exchange.

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Ecology and Society


PECS - Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Visiting address: Kräftriket 2

+46 734 60 70 68


The Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a core project of Future Earth. It aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological system and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.