Climate adaptation and multifunctionality: A landscape planning approach

Authors and Affiliations: 

Stefan Rüter, Carolin Galler, Christina von Haaren

Leibniz University Hannover, Institute of Environmental Planning, Herrenhäuser Str. 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany


Climate change adaptation has become an important challenge for planners to help natural and human systems persist in the face of changing climate conditions (Heller and Zavaleta 2009; Measham et al. 2011). It is increasingly recognised that planning and implementing measures require multifunctional approaches (Selman 2009) for optimizing multiple ecosystem services coupled with climate adaptation (Dosskey et al. 2012). Although landscape planning offers the prospect to support this task (Haaren et al. 2012), we argue that it has not yet sufficiently considered the perceptions of multifunctionality in its full potential scope. For example, conceptual problems exist in integrating multiple functions on different scales in practical attempts for climate adaptation. Furthermore, environmental planning and funding schemes are often designed and organized by single-sector administrations that usually neglect multifunctional issues.

The objective of this paper is to contribute to the theoretical framework as a basis for including multifunctionality more substantially in landscape planning for climate adaptation on different decision levels. We therefore propose the following structure of different aspects of multifunctionality, which all should be taken into account in planning:

i) Territorial multifunctionality referring to the simultaneous provision of multiple ecosystem services and landscape functions in a given area.

ii) Multifunctionality of spatial objectives and adaptation measures, of different land uses including nature conservation.

iii) Multifunctionality of implementation instruments (including legal instruments, incentives, communication).

iv) Multifunctionality of institutional processes and organizational structures for supporting implementation of measures and instrumental applications.

We give examples for integrated assessment of multifunctional measures based on case studies in agricultural landscapes in Germany (Galler et al. 2013; Rüter and Reich 2011). The results demonstrate for a variety of measures (e.g. changes in management practice, changes in land use pattern) great potential to simultaneously adapt to, for example, raising flood risk under climate change and provide additional functions like improving habitat connectivity or erosion prevention.

The paper concludes that the broad array of landscape planning methodologies can be adjusted and expanded to cope with the tasks of supporting multifunctionality and climate adaptation. Multifunctional spatial concepts promise multiple advantages, such as improving effectiveness of measures and public spending efficiency (Galler et al. 2013). Nonetheless, considerable gaps in knowledge remain that require research to improve the empirical basis for specific adaptation planning methods and management proposals (e.g. socio-economic and instrumental aspects in connection with ecological aspects).


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