The future of most landscapes is increasingly being determined by human activities. These activities modify existing landscape patterns and processes either deliberately or inadvertently. It is becoming increasingly apparent that an understanding of these landscape level patterns and processes is essential for rational land use planning and management both for production and biodiversity conservation. The science of landscape ecology aims to provide this understanding. I argue that landscape ecology has so far failed to integrate the various disciplines it brings together and lacks a coherent theoretical structure and principles of relevance in practical terms. While advances have been made in the study of landscape structure and change, landscape function is often still poorly understood. Flows of biota, water, nutrients and materials across landscapes are determined, in large part, by landscape patterns, but an appreciation of the functional links between patterns and processes has been slow to evolve. If landscape ecology is to provide useful input into land use and conservation issues, greater effort needs to be expended in understanding the functional aspects of landscapes. I suggest that the future of landscape ecology depends on whether landscape ecologists make the decision to take an active part in determining the future of our landscapes. This involves active efforts to produce a truly integrated science, the development of sound landscape design principles and increased interaction with policy, planning and management. Failure to meet this challenge will relegate landscape ecology to being a pleasant academic pastime with little relevance to today's pressing environmental and social problems.
Landscape and Urban Planning – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 1997
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