Econets, Landscape and People

Authors and Affiliations: 

Hugh Inwood, The Research Box

Prof. Gloria Pungetti, Dr Rob Jongman, Cambridge Centre for Landscape & People

Prof. Paul Selman, University of Sheffield


Successful and sustainable ecological networks in real landscapes require information and understanding of the ecological and the human aspects of landscape and find effective ways of bringing these together, in both design and implementation.


In late 2012, Natural England commissioned a study to find effective ways of integrating the public’s perception of landscape change, and the aesthetic, social and cultural values of landscape, in the planning, design and implementation of ecological networks (econets).  The vision and hypothesis of the study is that increased awareness and integration of landscape and socio-cultural values supports a more sustainable implementation of econet design and planning. It will also help inform the delivery of cultural ecosystem services alongside ecological and biodiversity conservation objectives.


The end goal for the study is to show how information and evidence gleaned from the public can be effectively integrated alongside natural science evidence – and to provide advice on how a methodology to uncover the public’s perceptions and values could be applied practically for the future benefit of econet design.  This may well take the form of a toolkit that can be used at the local level to understand and incorporate the views of the public.


The study comprises:


  • a review of the relevant literature – which has highlighted how few econets have been designed with cultural values and the experiences and views of the public in mind
  • a statement of the rationale for incorporating ‘cultural values’ (the public’s perceptions of landscape) in the context of econets and landscape change, together with the challenges in doing this
  • the design of a methodology (incorporating primary social research) for gathering and synthesising cultural values (people’s perceptions and local landscapes experiences) in the context of a proposed landscape-scale ecological network; and
  • a short pilot phase of work, designed to provide the framework for later public engagement work that might be being undertaken by existing landscape-scale or NIA partnerships.

Jongman, R.H.G. and Pungetti, G., (eds.) 2004. Ecological Networks and Greenways, Concepts methods and implementation. Cambridge University Press

Selman, P. (2012).  Sustainable Landscape Planning; The Reconnection Agenda. Earthscan-Routledge

Research Box, et al (2009). Experiencing Landscapes: capturing the cultural services and experiential qualities of landscape. Natural England, NECR024