Reconnecting global space with local place: New Zealand pathways to sustainable landscape management

Authors and Affiliations: 

Simon Swaffield

Lincoln University

New Zealand


The world’s farmers are under growing pressure to increase productivity in the face of population growth and limited land availability due to urbanisation, land degradation and climate change (Lambin & Meyfroidt 2011). A dominant policy response has been to enhance efficiency through globalisation of production technologies, distribution networks and markets (Coleman et al 2004). At the same time, urban consumers, sustainability scientists and community advocates demand a range of material and non-material ecosystem services from the landscapes that support production (Wratten et al 2013), and assurance of high moral and environmental standards in their food supply (Morgan et al 2007). These dynamics involve a range of different spatial logics (Castells 2000). How can the dynamics be reconciled (Primdahl and Swaffield 2010)? How can efficient vertically integrated global food supply systems be better integrated with co-management of local landscapes as settings for living, working, and provision of landscape services (Termorshuizen & Opdam 2009)?

This presentation reports on the lessons that can be learned from New Zealand, which is a major food producer that has been experimenting with its economic and environmental management policy for 30 years (Dalziel& Lattimore 2004).  Current best practice in sustainable landscape management in NZ includes environmental management systems within supply chains (Campbell et al 2006; Gray & Le Heron 2010; Rosin 2008), local area partnerships (MAF  2010), collaborative water management (Fenemor et al 2011), and areal performance based regulation of land use effects (Memon & Gleeson 1995). However, comparison and evaluation of such innovative practices suggests that effective integration of global and local dynamics remains elusive. Evidence on biophysical outcomes (OECD 2007), plan implementation (Berke 2006), public perceptions (Hughey et al 2004), and expert key informant assessments is used to identify both the most promising pathways to enhanced integration, and particular barriers to progress. Key challenges include how best to build functional, financial and moral networks that engage both vertically and horizontally, and how to enable and empower collaborative action within a regulatory framework.


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