Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 24, Issue 13, pp 3285–3303 | Cite as

Exploring links between culture and biodiversity: studying land use intensity from the plot to the landscape level

  • Matthias BürgiEmail author
  • Li Li
  • Thanasis Kizos
Original Paper


In recent years, the term biocultural diversity has been promoted to raise awareness for the interrelationship between culture and biodiversity. Whereas the term is hard to conceptualize in general, specific links between culture and biodiversity can be explored. In this paper, we focus on land use, which is on one hand culturally coined, and has on the other hand far-reaching impacts on biodiversity. The specific effects of land use on biodiversity depend on its intensity, which can be parameterized in different way, not the least depending on the scale of observation. Based on a short review of different approaches on how to assess land use intensity (LUI), we propose a new conceptual framework reflecting the scaled nature of the linkages between land management and biodiversity. From the plot to the landscape level, different aspects of LUI are becoming relevant, some of which we illustrate with case studies from China, Greece and Switzerland. We conclude on how the framework proposed can further our understanding on the interconnectedness of humans and their environment.


Land use change Land use intensity (LUI) Landscape dynamics Biodiversity Disturbance 



Part of the research leading to these results have received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement number 603447, HERCULES, with the RTD activities of the Environmental Thematic Priority. The Rufford Foundation generously supported the 2014 field work of the land use history and avian biodiversity research in Nyanpo Yutse. We thank the two reviewers for their comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit Landscape DynamicsSwiss Federal Research Institute WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Chair of Wildlife Ecology and ManagementAlbert-Ludwigs-Universität FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of the AegeanMytileneGreece

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