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Peng the Contribution of Landscape Ecology to Sustainable Land Use Research

Peng the Contribution of Landscape Ecology to Sustainable Land Use Research

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The contribution of landscape ecology to sustainable landuse research
Jian Peng
Yanglin Wang
Jiansheng Wu
Juan Jing
Minting Ye
Received: 7 September 2006/Accepted: 5 July 2007
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007
As an important component of sustainable development, sustainable land use isalways one of the key topics of researchers, decision-makers and the publics. Focusing onthe social, economic and ecological benefits of regional land use, traditional sustainableland use paid more attentions to the functional analysis in temporal scale, and lacked thespatial analysis of land use patterns. Aiming at the correlations between spatial patternsand ecological process, landscape ecology can be a good help to realize the spatial analysisof sustainable land use, but few research on sustainable land use has been conducted in theview of landscape ecology till now. In this study, the relationships among land, landscape,land use and landscape ecology are discussed firstly, so as to prove that landscape ecologycan be a conceptual foundation of research on sustainable land use. And then, a newannotation of the connotation of sustainable land use is made according to such landscapeecology principles as landscape structure and function, ecological holism and spatialheterogeneity, hierarchy theory and scale theory, and landscape change and stability.
Sustainable land use
Landscape ecology
Conceptual annotation
Readers should send their comments on this paper to: BhaskarNath@aol.com within 3 months of publicationof this issue.J. Peng
J. WuThe Key Laboratory for Environmental and Urban Sciences, Shenzhen Graduate School, PekingUniversity, Shenzhen 518055, ChinaJ. Peng
Y. Wang (
J. Wu
M. YeCollege of Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, Chinae-mail: ylwang@urban.pku.edu.cnJ. JingSchool of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK 
Environ Dev SustainDOI 10.1007/s10668-007-9113-4
1 Introduction
As the physical basis of human survival and development, land resource is the mostprimary and significant natural resource. Because human land use couples natural eco-system with human social-economic system closely, it is seen as the most important bridgethat joining physical environmental factors with human activities, and is also regarded asthe most important approach of human activities in dominating, disturbing or alteringglobal environmental change. Therefore, as the ultimate objective of human possessingland resource, sustainable land use has becoming an important basis of sustainabledevelopment. Since it was put forward and accepted at the first international conference of sustainable land use in 1990, the theories and approaches of sustainable land use havealways been one of the key topics of researchers, policy-makers and the publics. In the lastdecades, the methodology and indicators for sustainable land use evaluation were the keytopics in the research on sustainable land use. Many journals, such as
Agriculture, Eco-system and Environment 
Land Use Policy
, have published special issues to discussland quality indicators (Dumanski2000) and substitute indicators based on social eco-nomic metabolism (Haberl et al.2004) for sustainable land use evaluation, respectively. Onthe contrary, with an extensive basis on the five principles of sustainable land use proposedby FAO (1993), the research on the connotation of sustainable land use developed slowly,although the concept of sustainable land use was the theoretical premise of the evaluation,planning, and management for sustainable land use. As a matter of fact, the sustainabilityof land use implies not only the sustainability of land use model and biological productionin the temporal scale, but also includes the optimization of land use patterns in the spatialscale. However, focusing on the social, economic and ecological benefits of regional landuse, traditional sustainable land use paid more attentions to the functional evaluation in thetemporal scale, and lacked the spatial analysis of land use patterns.As a physical spatial synthesis in the earth surface, land use is a kind of integratedsystem with prominent spatial heterogeneity, while ecological holism is one of thefundamental approaches to realize sustainable land use. Therefore, the research of sustainable land use is related to the conceptual kernel of landscape ecology. Aiming at thecorrelations between spatial patterns and ecological process, landscape ecology can be agood help to realize the spatial analysis of sustainable land use. Nowadays, landscapeecology is shifting the research emphasis from spatial patterns analysis to functionalevaluation, and further to the correlation between spatial patterns and ecological progress.And landscape sustainability has been identified as one of the top 10 key issues andresearch priorities in landscape ecology (Wu and Hobbs2002). As a result, with theemerging of sustainability science (Kates et al.2001), landscape sustainability (Paoletti1999; Backhaus et al.2002; Peterseil et al.2004), sustainable landscape (Forman1990; Barrett1992; Leitao and Ahern2002; Antrop2006; Blaschke2006; Opdam et al.2006), and the correlation between landscape ecology and sustainable development (Odum andTurner1990; Lee et al.1992; Xiao1999a) or sustainability science (Wu2006; Potschin and Haines-Young2006), have become research hotspots in the functional analysis of landscape ecology. Furthermore, the natural capital paradigm for landscape ecology hasbeen proposed to make a shift from an ecological focus for the discipline to a moreanthropocentric one (Haines-Young2000; Blaschke2006; Potschin and Haines-Young 2006). However, although more and more attentions are paid on spatial dimensions of landscape sustainability (Backhaus et al.2002; Blaschke2006), and land use is seen as an important component of landscape sustainability (Leitao and Ahern2002), few research is
J. Peng et al.
conducted on sustainable land use through the theory and methodology of landscapeecology. The available ones are all related to the application of indicators in landscapelevel in the evaluation for sustainable land use (Ericksen et al.2002; Peng et al.2006), without the consideration on the theoretical contribution of landscape ecology tosustainable land use research.Aiming at exploring the conceptual contribution of landscape ecology to sustainableland use research, the objectives of the study reported in this paper are: (1) to analyze therelationships among land, landscape, land use and landscape ecology, so as to prove thefeasibility of the application of landscape ecology in sustainable land use research; and(2) to make a new annotation of the connotation of sustainable land use according tosuch landscape ecological principles as landscape structure and function, ecologicalholism and spatial heterogeneity, hierarchy theory and scale, and landscape change andstability.
2 Land use and landscape ecology
In the view of research objects and the development history of landscape ecology, it can beconcluded that, landscape ecology correlates to land use closely, and can be a fundamentalbasis for the research on sustainable land use.On one hand, the research objects of land use and landscape ecology are different in theintension of concepts but similar in the extension. As the research object of landscapeecology, landscape is a terrestrial complex of natural and human elements with an inte-grated pattern and function on the surface of the earth. Landscape is distinguished fromland in essence (Fu et al.2001). In details, the concept of land emphasizes particularly onsocio-economic property, and focuses on soil fertility, property right, economic value, andso on (Xiang1990); while the concept of landscape concerns more about aesthetic value,ecological value and long-term benefits as an intricate life-form entity (Cook and van Lier1994); therefore, the concept of landscape is more comprehensive than that of land.However, the original meaning of the concept of landscape is a piece of land (Turner1987). It is also defined as spatial land mosaics of heterogeneous ecosystems in landscapeecology (Forman and Godron1986; Forman1995). That is to say, the concepts of land and landscape have a similar extension, that is, a territorial complex.Furthermore, as a kind of natural resources for human economic development,landscape has multiple intrinsic values including natural historical value, ecologicalvalue, social value, cultural value and so on. Because human economic activities aremainly processing at the scale of landscape, it is argue that landscape has provided anappropriate spatial scale for researches on environmental changes due to human activi-ties. Meanwhile, all human activities should finally be put into effect on a certain spatialentity of land, and result in corresponding spatial and temporal change of land use.Therefore, landscape is a reflection and proof of human land use in the past, and can beregarded as a living template for sustainable land use (Xiao and Zhong1998). There isalso great similarity between landscape structure and land use structure, landscapefunction and land function, landscape dynamics and land use change. That is to say, theresearch objects of land use and landscape ecology are the same in the form of spatialentity. The research on land use correlates to the contents of landscape ecology, and theprinciples and methods of landscape ecology can be applied to the research on sus-tainable land use.
The contribution of landscape ecology

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