Inviting citizens to engage with landscape services by design

Authors and Affiliations: 

Janice Astbury, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester


This paper describes a set of design principles for urban landscapes that both reveal potential landscape services and invite citizens to steward them. The characteristics of these ‘inviting landscapes’ were identified using a conceptual framework of social-ecological systems (SESs) viewed through the lens of landscape (both cultural and ecological). This framework incorporates the suggestion that the interface between the social and ecological within a SES is where ecosystem functions meet ecosystem services (Bastian, 2001; Potschin & Haines-Young, 2006). Landscapes both transmit messages about the presence (or absence) of ecosystem functions and services and they are the scale at which citizens intervene in their local landscapes through activities such as gardening, maintenance of green space and ecological restoration. ‘Landscape services’ (Termorshuizen & Opdam, 2009) is therefore a more useful concept than the broader ‘ecosystem services’ when trying to help citizens make sense of nature’s functions and services and subsequently engage in their maintenance and enhancement. The opportunity for local actors to determine the value of landscape services also helps to respond to recent criticism that the ecosystem services approach is a technology of globalisation (Ernstson & Sörlin, 2013)

Empirical research in Manchester has documented examples of a range of inviting and uninviting landscapes and the ways in which citizens interact with them. A case is made for attending to landscape elements in order to invite citizen engagement in developing and maintaining green infrastructure. Guidelines are suggested for how to both deliberately design inviting landscapes or to create conditions for their emergence (and not undermine those that already exist).


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