Delineating boundaries of social-ecological systems for landscape planning: A comprehensive spatial approach

Berta Martín-López*, Ignacio Palomo, Marina García-Llorente, Irene Iniesta-Arandia, Antonio J. Castro, David García Del Amo, Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Carlos Montes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An increasing number of studies demonstrate the need of applying a social-ecological system approach for landscape planning. However, there is a lack of empirical research that operationalizes the concept of social-ecological system for landscape planning through the characterization of social-ecological interactions. In this study, we develop a methodological framework to delineate the boundaries of social-ecological systems and to characterize their main social-ecological units in a spatially explicit way. Social-ecological units represent the interactions between the biophysical and socio-economic sub-systems at local scale. The methodology is structured in four phases: (1) ecological regionalization, i.e. identification and mapping of consistent ecological units based on biophysical variables; (2) socio-economic regionalization, i.e. identification and mapping of homogeneous groups of municipalities based on socio-economic variables; (3) identification of social-ecological systems boundaries and characterization of social-ecological units; and (4) validation of the social-ecological systems boundaries with key informants through participatory mapping. By applying the proposed methodological framework to three different Mediterranean cultural landscapes, we define the boundaries of social-ecological systems and illustrate how social and ecological sub-systems interact at local scale. We conclude that the proposed methodological framework is useful to operationalize the concept of social-ecological systems in landscape planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-104
Number of pages15
JournalLand Use Policy
Volume66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Human-nature system
  • Indicators
  • Landscape planning
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Regionalization
  • Social-ecological units

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