Can a problem-solving approach strengthen landscape ecology’s contribution to sustainable landscape planning?
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- McAlpine, C.A., Seabrook, L.M., Rhodes, J.R. et al. Landscape Ecol (2010) 25: 1155. doi:10.1007/s10980-010-9514-x
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The need to avert unacceptable and irreversible environmental change is the most urgent challenge facing society. Landscape ecology has the capacity to help address these challenges by providing spatially-explicit solutions to landscape sustainability problems. However, despite a large body of research, the real impact of landscape ecology on sustainable landscape management and planning is still limited. In this paper, we first outline a typology of landscape sustainability problems which serves to guide landscape ecologists in the problem-solving process. We then outline a formal problem-solving approach, whereby landscape ecologists can better bring about disciplinary integration, a consideration of multiple landscape functions over long time scales, and a focus on decision making. This framework explicitly considers multiple ecological objectives and socio-economic constraints, the spatial allocation of scarce resources to address these objectives, and the timing of the implementation of management actions. It aims to make explicit the problem-solving objectives, management options and the system understanding required to make sustainable landscape planning decisions. We propose that by adopting a more problem-solving approach, landscape ecologists can make a significant contribution towards realising sustainable future landscapes.