Landscape Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 1037–1052 | Cite as

Landscape services as a bridge between landscape ecology and sustainable development

  • Jolande W. TermorshuizenEmail author
  • Paul Opdam


Landscape ecology is in a position to become the scientific basis for sustainable landscape development. When spatial planning policy is decentralised, local actors need to collaborate to decide on the changes that have to be made in the landscape to better accommodate their perceptions of value. This paper addresses two prerequisites that landscape ecological science has to meet for it to be effective in producing appropriate knowledge for such bottom-up landscape-development processes—it must include a valuation component, and it must be suitable for use in collaborative decision-making on a local scale. We argue that landscape ecological research needs to focus more on these issues and propose the concept of landscape services as a unifying common ground where scientists from various disciplines are encouraged to cooperate in producing a common knowledge base that can be integrated into multifunctional, actor-led landscape development. We elaborate this concept into a knowledge framework, the structure–function–value chain, and expand the current pattern–process paradigm in landscape ecology with value in this way. Subsequently, we analyse how the framework could be applied and facilitate interdisciplinary research that is applicable in transdisciplinary landscape-development processes.


Landscape change Collaborative spatial planning Landscape functions Pattern–process relations Landscape value and valuation Ecosystem services Structure–function–value chain Interdisciplinary research Transdisciplinary research Sustainability science 



This study is part of the “Ecosystem and Landscape Services” research programme of Wageningen University and Research Centre and financed by the strategic research programme “Sustainable spatial development of ecosystems, landscapes, seas and regions”, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation, and Food Quality. We thank Barbara Sterk, Laura Musacchio, and the anonymous reviewers for suggesting valuable improvements to the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alterra, Landscape CentreWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Land Use Planning GroupWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands

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