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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Between protocol and reality - Swedish municipal comprehensive planning

Bjarstig, Therese; Thellbro, Camilla; Stjernstrom, Olof; Svensson, Johan; Sandstrom, Camilla; Sandstrom, Per; Zachrisson, Anna


Spatial planning using a landscape approach has been recognized as being essential for reconciling ecological, cultural and socio-economic dimensions in sustainable development (SuD). Although embraced as a concept, there is a lack of planning tools capable of incorporating multi-level, multifunctional and multi-sectoral perspectives, especially in a rural context. The departure point in this paper is the legal requirements for municipal comprehensive planning (MCP) in Sweden and an e-mail survey about incentives, stakeholder involvement, policy integration and implementation in MCP in all 15 Swedish mountain municipalities. The purpose of this explorative study is to examine whether MCP could be a tool in planning for SuD. Results indicate a general lack of resources and a low status of MCP that affect, and even limit, stakeholder involvement, policy integration and implementation. However, legal requirements for MCP are targeted at SuD, and municipal personnel responsible for planning appreciate the potential of MCP. Therefore, there is potential to develop the MCP into an effective landscape planning tool. To accomplish this, the status of an active planning process has to be raised, the mandate of the local planning agency has to be secured, and residents and land users have to be involved throughout the planning process.


Landscape planning; municipal comprehensive planning; collaborative planning; innovative planning; rural context

Published in

European Planning Studies
2018, volume: 26, number: 1, pages: 35-54

Authors' information

Bjärstig, Therese
Umeå University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Stjernström, Olof
Umeå University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Sandström, Camilla
Umeå University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Zachrisson, Anna
Umeå University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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