Environ Dev Sustain DOI 10.

1007/s10668-007-9113-4

The contribution of landscape ecology to sustainable land use research
Jian Peng Æ Yanglin Wang Æ Jiansheng Wu Æ Juan Jing Æ Minting Ye

Received: 7 September 2006 / Accepted: 5 July 2007 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Abstract As an important component of sustainable development, sustainable land use is always one of the key topics of researchers, decision-makers and the publics. Focusing on the social, economic and ecological benefits of regional land use, traditional sustainable land use paid more attentions to the functional analysis in temporal scale, and lacked the spatial analysis of land use patterns. Aiming at the correlations between spatial patterns and ecological process, landscape ecology can be a good help to realize the spatial analysis of sustainable land use, but few research on sustainable land use has been conducted in the view 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 ecology can be a conceptual foundation of research on sustainable land use. And then, a new annotation of the connotation of sustainable land use is made according to such landscape ecology principles as landscape structure and function, ecological holism and spatial heterogeneity, hierarchy theory and scale theory, and landscape change and stability. Keywords Sustainable land use Á Landscape ecology Á Conceptual annotation Á Land Á Landscape

Readers should send their comments on this paper to: BhaskarNath@aol.com within 3 months of publication of this issue. J. Peng Á J. Wu The Key Laboratory for Environmental and Urban Sciences, Shenzhen Graduate School, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, China J. Peng Á Y. Wang (&) Á J. Wu Á M. Ye College of Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China e-mail: ylwang@urban.pku.edu.cn J. Jing School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK

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1 Introduction As the physical basis of human survival and development, land resource is the most primary and significant natural resource. Because human land use couples natural ecosystem with human social-economic system closely, it is seen as the most important bridge that joining physical environmental factors with human activities, and is also regarded as the most important approach of human activities in dominating, disturbing or altering global environmental change. Therefore, as the ultimate objective of human possessing land resource, sustainable land use has becoming an important basis of sustainable development. 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 have always been one of the key topics of researchers, policy-makers and the publics. In the last decades, the methodology and indicators for sustainable land use evaluation were the key topics in the research on sustainable land use. Many journals, such as Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment and Land Use Policy, have published special issues to discuss land quality indicators (Dumanski 2000) and substitute indicators based on social economic metabolism (Haberl et al. 2004) for sustainable land use evaluation, respectively. On the contrary, with an extensive basis on the five principles of sustainable land use proposed by 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 sustainability of land use implies not only the sustainability of land use model and biological production in the temporal scale, but also includes the optimization of land use patterns in the spatial scale. However, focusing on the social, economic and ecological benefits of regional land use, traditional sustainable land use paid more attentions to the functional evaluation in the temporal 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 integrated system with prominent spatial heterogeneity, while ecological holism is one of the fundamental approaches to realize sustainable land use. Therefore, the research of sustainable land use is related to the conceptual kernel of landscape ecology. Aiming at the correlations between spatial patterns and ecological process, landscape ecology can be a good help to realize the spatial analysis of sustainable land use. Nowadays, landscape ecology is shifting the research emphasis from spatial patterns analysis to functional evaluation, 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 and research priorities in landscape ecology (Wu and Hobbs 2002). As a result, with the emerging of sustainability science (Kates et al. 2001), landscape sustainability (Paoletti 1999; Backhaus et al. 2002; Peterseil et al. 2004), sustainable landscape (Forman 1990; Barrett 1992; Leitao and Ahern 2002; Antrop 2006; Blaschke 2006; Opdam et al. 2006), and the correlation between landscape ecology and sustainable development (Odum and Turner 1990; Lee et al. 1992; Xiao 1999a) or sustainability science (Wu 2006; Potschin and Haines-Young 2006), have become research hotspots in the functional analysis of landscape ecology. Furthermore, the natural capital paradigm for landscape ecology has been proposed to make a shift from an ecological focus for the discipline to a more anthropocentric one (Haines-Young 2000; Blaschke 2006; Potschin and Haines-Young 2006). However, although more and more attentions are paid on spatial dimensions of landscape sustainability (Backhaus et al. 2002; Blaschke 2006), and land use is seen as an important component of landscape sustainability (Leitao and Ahern 2002), few research is

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conducted on sustainable land use through the theory and methodology of landscape ecology. The available ones are all related to the application of indicators in landscape level 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 to sustainable land use research. Aiming at exploring the conceptual contribution of landscape ecology to sustainable land use research, the objectives of the study reported in this paper are: (1) to analyze the relationships among land, landscape, land use and landscape ecology, so as to prove the feasibility 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 to such landscape ecological principles as landscape structure and function, ecological holism and spatial heterogeneity, hierarchy theory and scale, and landscape change and stability.

2 Land use and landscape ecology In the view of research objects and the development history of landscape ecology, it can be concluded that, landscape ecology correlates to land use closely, and can be a fundamental basis for the research on sustainable land use. On one hand, the research objects of land use and landscape ecology are different in the intension of concepts but similar in the extension. As the research object of landscape ecology, landscape is a terrestrial complex of natural and human elements with an integrated pattern and function on the surface of the earth. Landscape is distinguished from land in essence (Fu et al. 2001). In details, the concept of land emphasizes particularly on socio-economic property, and focuses on soil fertility, property right, economic value, and so on (Xiang 1990); 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 Lier 1994); 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 (Turner 1987). It is also defined as spatial land mosaics of heterogeneous ecosystems in landscape ecology (Forman and Godron 1986; Forman 1995). 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, ecological value, social value, cultural value and so on. Because human economic activities are mainly processing at the scale of landscape, it is argue that landscape has provided an appropriate spatial scale for researches on environmental changes due to human activities. Meanwhile, all human activities should finally be put into effect on a certain spatial entity 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 be regarded as a living template for sustainable land use (Xiao and Zhong 1998). There is also great similarity between landscape structure and land use structure, landscape function and land function, landscape dynamics and land use change. That is to say, the research objects of land use and landscape ecology are the same in the form of spatial entity. The research on land use correlates to the contents of landscape ecology, and the principles and methods of landscape ecology can be applied to the research on sustainable land use.

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On the other hand, throughout the whole development history of landscape ecology, it is clear that landscape ecology itself is just a discipline about land or land use (Ruzicka and Miklos 1990). Land is the primary research target of landscape ecology from the very beginning. As we know, landscape ecology was starting at the research on land use in Eastern African by Carl Troll in 1939 (Naveh and Lieberman 1984). It is the research on land use that resulted in the European school, one of the two schools of landscape ecology (Turner 2005). The practices of land management and restoration are also correlated to the development of landscape ecology closely (Urban et al. 1987). It is also argued that, landscape ecology paid much more attentions to the effect of land use change on material and energy flows, and the interrelationships between land use structure and ecological processes (Turner 1989). Moreover, as landscape ecology is closely related to land use planning, especially in the aspect of spatial patterns, it is regarded as the theoretical foundation of land use planning and management (Haber 1990; Jongmang 2000; Wu 2000). The 21st Century Agenda also acknowledged the importance of landscape ecology in land use planning and management (Green 1993).

3 Implications of landscape ecology principles for sustainable land use Since there is high consistency between landscape ecology and sustainable development (Wang 1993), the principles of landscape ecology are of particular significance for the conceptual annotation and associated research on sustainable land use. Some scholars have summarized the primary principles of landscape ecology from varied perspectives (Naveh and Lieberman 1984; Forman and Godron 1986; Forman 1995; Xiao 1999b). Generally speaking, the following four landscape ecological principles of landscape ecology are essential to the annotation of the concept of sustainable land use.

3.1 The principle of landscape structure and function From the perspective of landscape ecology, in a landscape, each individual ecosystem (or landscape element) can be regarded as a patch with significant width, a narrow corridor, or the background matrix. And interpreted as the flows of energy, materials, and species among landscape elements (Forman and Godron 1986), landscape function is related to the function of landscape elements, including corridors, matrix and patches. In the face of ecological landscape and visual landscape simultaneously, landscape ecology focuses on the harmonization between form and content, structure and function, and pursues the realization of multi-values, such as economic, ecological, social and aesthetic value of the landscape (Xiao and Zhong 1998). Therefore, aiming at sustainability, human land use should pay more attentions to the optimization of multiple values, instead of the maximum of any kind of those values, so as to take full advantages of the three main functions of land, that is the biological production function, spatial site function and aesthetic landscape function (Mather 1986). The interaction between landscape structure and ecological process is one of the key issues of landscape ecology (Wang 1993). In a landscape, natural and human dominated ecological processes are of great importance to the formation of landscape spatial patterns, while the processes are also controlled by landscape structure (Forman and Godron 1986). It can be concluded that, landscape spatial patterns derive from ecological processes, ecological processes reflect the mechanism of landscape change, and the mechanism

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indicate the law of the nature. A certain landscape function can only be realized in a certain landscape structure. Therefore, land productivity is strongly interrelated with landscape structure and function (Zhou et al. 1999). And the research on sustainable land use should include not only the optimization of land function, but also the evaluation for land use patterns or landscape structure, and the analysis of the interaction between landscape structure and ecological processes, which has just been ignored in current sustainable land use research.

3.2 The principle of ecological holism and spatial heterogeneity The theoretic core of landscape ecology is ecological holism and spatial heterogeneity (Wang and Yang 1999). Landscape is a complex system composed by organically related landscape elements, and it has a hierarchy structure with independent function characteristics and distinctive vision characteristics. A healthy landscape should be holistic in structure and function. Landscape is not only a simple congregation of all landscape elements, but also possesses unique characteristics that do not exist in any single landscape element. The function of landscape is larger than that of the summation of all single parts, which is a straightforward expression of the theory of ecological holism. According to this theory, land is a synthetic function complex. Researches on sustainable land use should take all land use elements into account, such as social, economic and ecological elements. Furthermore, as the characteristics of regional land use system can not be entirely revealed through the analysis of land use components, it is necessary to analyze land us system in the context of environmental change and regional development. And the aim of sustainable land use should accord with that of sustainable development. Spatial heterogeneity refers to the unevenness and complexity of ecological variables in spatial distribution (Wu 2000). Landscape is a spatial mosaic composed of heterogeneous landscape elements, and spatial heterogeneity at the scale of landscape includes three aspects, that is spatial composition, spatial configuration and spatial correlation (Pickett and Cadenasso 1995). Generally speaking, high landscape heterogeneity decreases the abundance of rare interior species, increases the abundance of edge species and animals requiring two or more landscape elements, and enhances the potential total species. In other words, heterogeneity could favor landscape stability to a certain degree, so that it is indispensable to promote and maintain landscape heterogeneity consciously (Turner et al. 1989). In the process of land use management, each part of land is heterogeneous while at the same time interrelated, interdependent and interacted to each other. To realize the ecological holism of regional land use, it is necessary to promote and maintain a certain spatial heterogeneity. In a ward, the substance of regional sustainable land use is the dynamic maintenance of ecological holism and persistent construction of spatial heterogeneity.

3.3 The principle of hierarchy theory and scale theory Hierarchy theory is the foundation of landscape framework (O’Neill et al. 1988). According to this theory, landscape is hierarchically structured, and any landscape unit in a certain grade is not only a structure entity coupling functions of other units in lower grades, but also a structure component of other units in higher grades.

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Scale indicates research level of study objects, including spatial scale and temporal scale (Wu 2000). According to scale theory, spatial scale and temporal scale coexist in the ecological processes of any landscape, and landscapes in different grades have various spatial and temporal scales (Wiens 1990). The structure, function and change of a landscape are all restricted by the scale, as they exhibit different behaviors in different spatial and temporal scale. That is to say, a certain ecological processes and landscape patterns are corresponding to a certain spatial and temporal scale, and there is little possibility to analyze the processes or patterns in larger or smaller scale. Researches on scale effects on landscape patterns and processes are always one of the superiority fields of landscape ecology accordingly (O’Neill et al. 1989). Based on hierarchy theory and scale theory, sustainable land use research should be carried out under multiple scales, and more attentions should be paid to the interrelationship of land use sustainability in various scales, and to make certain the emphases of sustainable land use in all the scales (Hobbs and Saunders 1993). For instance, from the scale of field, farm, watershed or landscape, region or nation, to the whole world, the restrictive factors in sustainable land use are agricultural technology, microeconomics, ecological factors, macro social factors, and macro ecological factors, respectively (Fu et al. 1997), and the emphases on sustainable land use research should change correspondingly. In the research on sustainable land use in a certain scale, we should not only emphasize on the land use system in the identical scale, but also analyze its driving mechanism in a smaller scale, and integrate it in a larger scale to look for management countermeasures for sustainable land use. It is best when land use sustainability is realized in all scales contemporarily, whereas it hardly happens. In case land use sustainability in various scales are in contradiction to each other, sustainability in larger scale should take precedence over that in smaller scales. Besides, as far as temporal scale are considered, sustainable land use researches should emphasize in the scale of human generation, which can make people perceive the change of land use/land cover, and are in favor of the understanding of the effects of land use management on natural ecological processes.

3.4 The principle of landscape change and stability Landscape stability refers to the resistance of a landscape to external disturbances and its recovery ability after disturbances, including the stability of each landscape element and the overall stability of heterogeneous mosaic composed of these landscape elements (Forman and Godron 1986). Although the overall stability is also affected by the stability of each landscape elements (Zhao and Li 2001), the mosaic stability of landscape maintained by spatial correlation and ecological processes is far more focused by landscape ecology. Generally speaking, the mosaic stability is determined by spatial heterogeneity, and homogeneity will increase the disturbances and associate effects, and decrease landscape stability. According to the principle of landscape change, landscape is heterogeneous and homogeneous landscape never exists. Without disturbances, landscape structure tends progressively toward homogeneity. Moderate disturbances can rapidly increases landscape heterogeneity, while severe disturbances may increase or decrease landscape heterogeneity (Forman and Godron 1986). The influence of the disturbance upon landscape mosaics is not only related to the intensity and extent of the disturbance itself, but also determined by the resistance of the landscape. It is familiar that different landscape responses to the same disturbance variously. That is, the disturbance is constrained by landscape patterns while

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the former often leads to the change of the latter (Zhao and Li 2001). Meanwhile, the disturbance to a landscape could be mainly classified into two parts, natural disturbance and human disturbance. As affecting the landscape widely and profoundly, human disturbance plays a leading role in landscape change. And the purposive evolvement and sustainable development of the landscape can be achieved through direction alteration and speed adjustment of landscape change (Nassauer 1995; Xiao 1999b; Fu et al. 2001). As one of the main human activities, land use is a kind of human disturbance to land use system. In case that proper land use management is carried out, we can realize a certain land use target and keep it sustainable. But land use is also suffered from natural disasters and other human social-economic activities, land use change is inevitable, and land use management should take into account the negative effects of natural disturbance and human activities adequately. Meanwhile, macro dynamics of land use system is nonreversible, and the order of the system is increased through the import of negative entropy from the outside circumstance. Therefore, the sustainability of land use system is closely related to the opening of material flow and species flow in the system. The resistance of land use system against the disturbance and restoration process after the disturbance can be promoted through enhancing the flows of the material, energy and information between land use system and the circumstance. As sustainable land use requires high landscape stability, the abundance of landscape diversity, species diversity and gene diversity are essential for the realization of sustainable land use, which are expressed in the view of land use as the multiplicity of land use objectives, the diversification of land use types and the spatial mosaic of land use structure.

4 Conclusion Landscape is the most appropriate spatial scale for sustainable environmental planning and management (Forman 1990; Barrett 1992). From the aspects of research objects and discipline development of landscape ecology, it can be concluded that land use and landscape ecology correlate with each other closely. Landscape ecology shows high consistency to the concept of sustainable development (Wang 1993), which can be regarded as an important theoretic foundation of sustainable land use. Several principles of landscape ecology are proved to be in favor of understanding the connotation of sustainable land use, such as landscape structure and function principle, ecological holism and spatial heterogeneity principle, hierarchy theory and scale theory principle, and landscape change and stability principle. The sustainability of land use depends on the spatial and temporal scales in consideration. Sustainable land use research is effective only if it is carried out at a certain spatial and temporal scale, and the scale of human generation should have precedence over other temporal scales. Meanwhile, sustainable land use not only indicates the sustainability of land use forms in temporal scale, but also the optimization of patterns in spatial scale. To a certain extent, traditional social, economical and ecological researches on sustainable land use only took the analysis in temporal scale into account, and lacked the spatial analysis of land use patterns. Taking both spatial patterns and ecological correlations into account, landscape ecology is helpful for the synthetic analysis, evaluation and management of sustainable land use both in spatial and temporal scales. In a word, landscape ecology provides a new approach for sustainable land use research with a focus on spatial dimensions.

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The study reported here just focused on the conceptual contribution of landscape ecology to sustainable land use research through such two aspects as the combination of land use and landscape ecology, and the implications of landscape ecology principles for sustainable land use research. Based on this study, far more discussions should be directed to the evaluation, planning and management issues for sustainable land use research, especially the following questions, so as to make certain the methodological contribution of landscape ecology to sustainable land use research: (1) how to measure the effects of spatial patterns on landscape function and accordingly incorporate spatial dimensions into the functional evaluation for sustainable land use based on the principle of landscape structure and function; (2) how to reflect the temporal dynamic characteristics in the evaluation for sustainable land use based on the principle of landscape change and stability; (3) how to construct spatial patterns of sustainable land use through landscape planning and design based on the principle of ecological holism and spatial heterogeneity; and (4) how to realize multi-scale synthesis and spatial scaling for sustainable land use research in various spatial scales based on the principle of hierarchy theory and scale theory.
Acknowledgements This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 40635028, 40571051, 40471002), and National Keystone Basic Research and Development Programming Project (No. G2000046807). The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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