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From concepts to practice: combining different approaches to understand drivers of landscape change

Thanasis Kizos, Department of Geography, University of the Aegean
Peter H. Verburg, Environmental Geography Group, VU University Amsterdam; Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Matthias Bürgi, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Dimitirs Gounaridis, Department of Geography, University of the Aegean
Tobias Plieninger, Social-Ecological Interactions in Agricultural Systems, University of Kassel and University of Göttingen, Germany
Claudia Bieling, Institute of Social Sciences in Agriculture, Societal Transition and Agriculture (430b), University of Hohenheim
Thomas Balatsos, Department of Geography, University of the Aegean


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Landscape change and its drivers have been the focus of a growing body of literature in the past years. Our objective is to present different approaches to studying and understanding landscape change. We sketch the way in which different approaches and existing conceptual models are related to spatial scales and epistemological aims, and discuss complementarity and a range of applications with five specific research approaches from a Mediterranean landscape, including approaches at national and European levels. These include an analysis of historical landscape change, an investigation of decision-making processes, public awareness raising, evaluation of landscape services, and provision of policy support with data from published and unpublished material. The findings indicate that on the issue of complementarity, some models work better together with others. A major difference observed is the role that conceptual models and related approaches provide to the “voice” of stakeholders and actors of landscape change, sometimes contradicting, but often complementary. An important issue that comes up is a need for a plurality of research approaches and underlying conceptualizations of human–environment interactions, as the approaches represent different lenses for looking at the human–environmental system that are all abstractions from the full complexity of how decision-making on land use is conducted.

Key words

driving forces; landscape change; Lesvos

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087