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Report, 2011

Landscape laboratories 2008-10 : guided and supervised activities & publications

Busse Nielsen, Anders


This report on the landscape laboratories set out, for the first time, data about the type and frequency of activities and publications tied to these arenas for interdisciplinary education, demonstration and research on urban and periurban forests landscapes and their elements. While universities world wide have shut down or sold larger parts of their landscape trials during the last decades, SLU Alnarp has geared up and initiated new experimental trial areas conceptualised as “landscape laboratories”. In 1991, the first landscape laboratory was established right around the university campus at Alnarp as an arena for full scale experimental research on enrichment of urban–rural fringe landscapes by afforestation. This was followed up by establishment of a second landscape laboratory in Snogeholm, Sweden in 1994 focusing on afforestation and multiple‐use forestry practice. The third landscape laboratory was established between 2000‐04 as part of a new housing district in Holstebro, Denmark, and focuses on new types of neighbourhood forest landscapes and residents‐landscape interactions. The Landscape laboratories form full‐scale outdoor research and teaching environments that other universities lack and admire. This report provides and overview of groups of students, researchers, practitioners and voluntary organisations that have as visited the landscape laboratories as part of outdoor teaching activities, workshops, conferences and guided tours during 2008‐10. This is supplemented with an overview of recent and ongoing research activities and publications related to the landscape laboratories and their reference landscapes around the world. Key findings include: During 2008‐10 a total of 163 groups have visited the landscape laboratories. This equals one group per week all year round in all three years. As much as 5415 people participated in those activities with an average group size of 33 people. With 62 % off all visits (n = 101), the landscape laboratory at SLU Alnarp was by fare the most frequently used. This illustrates the added value of having a landscape laboratory as part of the students, teachers, and researchers’ every day campus landscape, where it becomes an ‘outdoor class room’ that replaces indoor lectures and provide possibilities for combining theory and practice in one and the same course moment. The landscape laboratories have attracted policy makers, stakeholders, practitioners, students and researchers. With 90 groups, students accounts for just above half of the guided group visits. Student groups from other universities than SLU ‐ many of which are international universities ‐ are just as frequent visitors as groups enrolled at SLU. This illustrates that the laboratories appeal to students of many different disciplines and nationalities. When the 49 groups of professional organisations, the 13 research groups and 11 stakeholder groups are added, external groups amounts to nearly two third of the group visits. This illustrates that the landscape laboratories have become one of the main outlets for SLU’s research, teaching and demonstration of approaches to the development of urban and peri‐urban forests and landscapes. The 193 groups visiting the landscape laboratories between 2008‐10 represent a vast diversity in terms disciplinary focus. Groups that primarily focus on peri‐urban landscapes and urban green space accounts for nearly 50 % of the groups being guided. Forestry students and organisations are also well represented with 30 %. In comparison students and organisation focusing on horticulture and dendrology respectively ecology and nature conservation has been less frequent visitors, as have groups with other disciplinary focus such as art, music, health care and stakeholder groups. Nevertheless, the vast diversity of disciplinary focuses show that the landscape laboratories have succeeded in becoming shared arenas for multiple disciplines and the teaching, research and demonstration activities ties to them, thus meeting society’s demand for interdisciplinary approaches to landscape and natural resource management. The landscape laboratories have generated 107 publications and scientific presentations, while a similar number of publications have been generated from the web of reference landscapes in Sweden and around the world. More than half of the publications and presentation are in English, while the remaining is – with falling numbers in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German, and Spanish. Publications focused on disseminating the landscape laboratory concept and findings to practitioners and conference participants dominate and reflect the joint efforts of SLU researchers in making the landscape laboratories known among practitioners and researchers. In conclusion, this report sets out a baseline for evaluating the landscape laboratories and for analysing future activities and trends in the landscape laboratories. The report is also intended to raise awareness about the landscape laboratories and how they can contribute to SLU’s ambitions of carrying out interdisciplinary education, demonstration and research.


field trials; landscape laboratory; urban forestry; forest recreation; interdisciplinary approach

Published in

Landskap, trädgård, jordbruk : rapportserie
2011, number: 2011:21
ISBN: 978-91-86373-72-6
Publisher: Faculty of Landscape Planning, Horticulture and Agricultural Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences