Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 1039–1045 | Cite as

Twenty-five years into “our common future”: are we heading in the right direction?

  • Wenche E. DramstadEmail author
  • Wendy J. Fjellstad
Research Article


For a quarter of a century, sustainable development has been on the political and research agendas. Within the field of landscape ecology, a wide array of research has documented the effects of alternative land uses, analysed driving forces of land use change and developed tools for measuring such changes, to mention but a few developments. There have also been great advances in technology and data management. Nevertheless, unsustainable land use continues to occur and the science of landscape ecology has had less influence on landscape change than aimed for. In this paper we use Norwegian examples to discuss some of the reasons for this. We examine mismatches in the spatial and temporal scales considered by scientists, decision-makers and those who carry out land use change, consider how this and other factors hinder effective communication between scientists and practitioners, and urge for a stronger focus on what it is that motivates people to action. We suggest that the concept of landscape services can be useful not only for researchers but also provide valuable communication and planning tools. Finally, we suggest more emphasis on applying adaptive management in landscape ecology to help close the gaps, both between researchers and policy and, even more crucially, between researchers and practitioners.


Sustainable development Landscape services Adaptive management Norway 



We are very grateful to the three anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments on the first draft of this manuscript. Part of this work was funded by the Norwegian Research Council (178371/I10).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Forest and Landscape InstituteÅsNorway

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