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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Landscape Approaches to Sustainability-Aspects of Conflict, Integration, and Synergy in National Public Land-Use Interests

Svensson, Johan; Neumann, Wiebke; Bjarstig, Therese; Zachrisson, Anna; Thellbro, Camilla


Strong land-use pressure challenges sustainable development and calls for landscape approaches that balance economic, ecological, and socio-cultural aspects and interests. In the boreal, sub-alpine, and alpine regions in Sweden, encompassing 32 million ha, many and different land-use interests overlap, which causes risks for conflict, but potentially also suggests integration and synergy opportunities. Based on geographic information system (GIS) analyses of geographically delineated national interests regulated in the Swedish Environmental Code, including, amongst others, Natura 2000, contiguous mountains, recreation, reindeer husbandry, and wind power, and based on forestry as a dominating land use, we found extensive overlap among similar but also between dissimilar types of interest. In some mountain municipalities, our results show that the designated national interest area is four times as large as the available terrestrial area. Moreover, the overlap is much higher in the alpine than in the boreal biome, and there is increasing designation for nature conservation and a decreasing designation for national interests for culture, recreation, and tourism from south to north. We interpret the results with reference to multiple-use needs and opportunities for landscape approaches to sustainable planning. Departing from biodiversity conservation values, we also discuss opportunities to focus planning strategies on assessing synergy, integration, and conflict based on nature-based and place-based land-use characteristics.


alpine; boreal; comprehensive planning; environmental code; integrated planning; land-use diversification; multiple use; municipal planning; Sweden

Published in

2020, Volume: 12, number: 12, article number: 5113
Publisher: MDPI