Applying the ecosystem approach at the landscape scale

In November 2015, the Ecosystems Knowledge Network published a review of how the ecosystem approach is being applied across a selection of the UK’s most treasured landscapes. Initiatives interviewed as part of the work included the Seven Lochs Wetland Park (near Glasgow) and the Lough Neigh Landscape Partnership in Northern Ireland.  it included several National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The ecosystem approach is a set of principles to guide the planning, design and management of land and water for the benefit of society. It can be applied at a wide variety of spatial scales and settings, ranging from local neighbourhoods to international marine areas.  The land areas that people view as ‘landscapes’ are a logical setting in which to apply the ecosystem approach because they are determined by a combination of historical, social, cultural and environmental factors.

The findings of this review show that the ecosystem approach is:

  • reinforcing existing good practice in how land, water and nature are managed at the landscape scale. This includes helping local people to communicate their values for the landscape and ensuring that projects are delivered in accordance with a long-term vision.
  • helping to define new good practice. An example is the way that some landscape scale initiatives are working to influence spatial plans and development plans for local areas. 

A set of challenges for greater application of the ecosystem approach were identified by the review, together with ways of overcoming them. The responses include, for example, the provision of guidance on how existing readily accessible data can be used to provide new angles on how people value nature across a landscape area.

The review can be downloaded by clicking on the image below.