Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 181–192 | Cite as

Landscape grammar: a method to analyse and design hedgerows and networks

  • Federica Larcher
  • Jacques Baudry


In Europe, rural landscapes are characterized by the presence of hedgerows and networks. In recent decades changes in agricultural systems, due in particular to the intensification of agricultural practices, have caused a transformation of hedgerows and networks, thereby reducing their qualities and changing their ecological and social functions. Yet, no global framework to analyze and design hedgerows and networks is available. Our paper is a step forward in combining the ecological and social dimension of hedgerows and hedgerow networks for both analytical and planning purposes. We propose to use a landscape grammar for deciphering the structural and functional aspects of hedgerow units and networks and to formalize rules for design and management based on scientific evidence. In the case of hedgerows, landscape grammar consists of letters, or single units of trees and shrubs of different species and their different shapes related to management practices. Appropriate or meaningful combinations of letters create words and sentences, hence forming hedgerow networks. In order to test the suitability of the grammar for reading or understanding and consequently writing or planning hedgerows in different landscapes, two study areas were chosen: Pleine-Fougères in Brittany (France) and Pianura Padana in Piedmont (Italy). The basic units, the aggregated units and the network were analyzed respectively as the letters, the words and the syntax of our landscape grammar. This metaphor provides an analytical framework for understanding hedgerows, from the individual tree to the landscape. Our model anticipates the concerns of both researchers and policymakers throughout the hedgerow network planning process.


Rural landscape Structure Ecological functions Tree management Planning 



We gratefully acknowledge the ministry in charge of the environment and the European Commission for financial support. We also thank all the research group and technical staff of SAD-Paysage, CAREN, Rennes cedex (France) for their advice. We thank Greta Bliss for English editing. Special thanks to the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments and suggestions helping us to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agronomy, Forestry and Land ManagementUniversity of TurinGrugliascoItaly
  2. 2.INRA UP 980 SAD-Paysage, CARENRennes CedexFrance

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