Understanding of landscape values is an essential means to support sustainable land use and spatial planning by citizen participation

Landscapes are manifestations of biophysical, cultural, and economic processes, facing constant change. These changes represent the many ways in which people interact with their environments. Landscapes have both material and immaterial dimensions: they provide us with a range of goods and services, but also form an important part of our identity, contributing to our natural and cultural heritage. Urban residents, tourists, rural country dwellers, farmers and fishermen all have different wants and needs from the landscape, leading to a diverse range of landscape values. This diversity of demands, perceptions, and uses of landscapes raise challenging questions about how to best design, plan, and manage resilient landscapes that are resistant to shocks and adaptive to changes in society and environment.

To cater for the diverse nature of people-environment interactions, we develop and employ new integrative methods to study landscape values, including in-depth case-study research, landscape modeling, participatory mapping, and meta-studies.

Our approach characterizes itself by being:

  • Interdisciplinary: We conceptualize landscapes as socio-ecological systems and bring together a broad set of methodological tools to assess the interplay between natural and social processes
  • Dynamic: We treat landscapes as dynamic systems, studying how landscape values both affect and are affected by land use change
  • Spatial explicit: We study values in a spatially explicit manner and at different scales, which advances our understanding of interactions between biophysical and social landscape attributes and helps to identify priority areas containing specific landscape characteristics and functions
  • Policy relevant: We develop instruments that helps landscape practitioners to take stock of the wide range of landscape values, which is essential to garner public support for planned changes in the landscape

Selected key publications: