Conclusions: Perspectives for Integrative Landscape Planning, Management and Monitoring
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Integrative landscape ecology in cultural landscapes encompasses complex systems, long-term processes, uncertainties, limited but ill-defined carrying capacities, and external effects. One of its prime areas of application is rural landscapes, i.e. areas that are primarily managed for biological productivity. The emphasis on agricultural productivity comes with serious trade-offs in respect to non-agricultural landscape functions and ecosystem services.
A major challenge to implement more sustainable land use practises results from the differing time-scales of ecological, economic and social processes. These timescales make it more difficult to integrate social and economic research into the environmental sciences. Due to the complexity of ecosystems and the long-term cycles of the processes involved, strict prognoses are rarely possible. Frequently, planners have to rely on the construction and analysis of (computer-)modeled scenarios. The appropriate modeling tools are being developed by the new ecosystem and landscape sciences. These tools should be fairly easy to understand for planners, and – supported by visualizations – contribute to communicate effectively with stakeholders and decision makers (cf. Chapter 13).
A certain land use pattern and intensity can only be judged effectively, if both the targets and time-span are sufficiently quantified. Still, if the societal preference patterns for the targets change during the time-span, if the understanding of the desirability of certain ecosystem states, structures or processes improves, or our perception of the ecological and social impact of the land use patterns changes, we may have to deal with considerably moving targets. However, there is no alternative to a continuously adjusting management process into which new information is iteratively fed and evaluated.
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