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Research article2011Peer reviewedOpen access

Sustainable Development and Sustainability: Landscape Approach as a Practical Interpretation of Principles and Implementation Concepts

Axelsson, Robert; Angelstam, Per; Elbakidze, Marine; Stryamets, Natalya ; Johansson, Karl-Erik


The situation for governors and managers of natural resources has increased in complexity. Previously it was enough to sustain the yields of wood, food and energy. Today, maintenance of ecosystem services, conservation of biodiversity, rural development and human wellbeing are new additional objectives. At the same time there are new risks and uncertainties linked to climate change, economic globalisation, energy security and water supply. Consequently, adaptive and holistic research, governance and management are needed. Landscape is a concept and framework that can be used as an approach to enhance implementation of policies about sustainable development as a societal process and sustainability as outcomes on the ground. For our analysis to define the landscape approach we used a hierarchical framework consisting of principles, concepts and initiatives; and included three principles defining SD and sustainability and five international concepts to analyze its implementation for our analysis to define landscape approach. We propose a practical operationalization that consists of five core attributes, (1) a sufficiently large area that matches management requirements and challenges to deliver desired goods, services and values, (2) multi-level and multi-sector stakeholder collaboration that promotes sustainable development as a social process, (3) commitment to and understanding of sustainability as an aim among stakeholders, (4) integrative knowledge production, and (5) sharing of experience, results and information, to develop local or tacit to general or explicit knowledge. Finally, we discuss the need for integrative research to study landscape approach concepts and what local initiatives using different concepts deliver on the ground.

Published in

Journal of Landscape Ecology
2011, Volume: 4, number: 3, pages: 5-30