Community-based planning with landscape services

Symposium organised by:

Paul Opdam, Wageningen University, Land Use Planning group, Netherlands.

Eveliene Steingröver, Alterra Wageningen UR, Nature and Society group, Netherlands.


This symposium will explore the role of planning and design methods based on landscape services and green infrastructure concepts in bottom-up landscape governance. It will consider how the applications of such methods may stimulate: social learning in local communities; collective action to adapt the landscape; and investments to create added value out of landscape services.


Community-based landscape governance is considered as conditional for sustainable landscape adaptation. This symposium will consider planning and design processes consistent with bottom-up landscape governance, and explore how such processes may stimulate investments in landscapes to create value out of landscape services. It will use the social-ecological system model as a theoretical framework. The term landscape services is advocated as a specification of the more popular term ecosystem services. It is more appropriate in the context of community based planning, because it can better serve as a common ground between science and local communities and between social and ecological disciplines.

Current ecosystem service research does not provide the type of science that is required to support sustainable, community-based landscape planning. Most research is mainly science driven, focussing on assessment at large spatial scale, with policy users in mind. Active involvement of local stakeholders is scarce. Therefore, there is a lack of evidence-based approaches that are able to involve local governance networks and move the ecosystem services research out of the static mapping and evaluation approaches towards dynamic systems thinking.

This symposium will include a variety of stakeholder-driven methods suitable for different phases of the planning process: from building shared visions on future landscape services provisioning, via diagnosis of current provisioning of services and their value, to design of future landscapes and business plans to cooperate in improving the physical landscape structure for common benefits. Presentations will be welcome that combine scientific and local knowledge; allow groups of local actors to discover landscape services and their benefits; and stimulate collective action at the scale of the landscape.


This symposium aims to result in a shared paper, which could be submitted to the “Landscape Ecology in practice” section of Landscape Ecology. It will contain conclusions about how scientists could improve methods based on ecosystem services to be better suitable for facilitating local communities in planning their future landscape.

Oral presentations