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A Soft Systems Methodology Approach to Multifunctional Landscapes: understanding interactivity and engaging stakeholders

Silva Alvarado, Laura T (2016) A Soft Systems Methodology Approach to Multifunctional Landscapes: understanding interactivity and engaging stakeholders. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Landscapes are intrinsically multifunctional. However, only some landscapes display synergistic dynamism between ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ landscape functions. Positive dynamism between landscape functions is a property that has usually emerged fortuitously and over a long period of time. The literature suggests that the promotion of landscape multifunctionality through purposive landscape interventions can set appropriate ‘initial conditions’ to speed up the emergence of multifunctional, resilient and distinctive landscapes. The challenges for landscape practitioners are to understand complex relationships between landscape functions and to include people as an integral part of the landscape. This research studies multifunctional landscapes as social-ecological systems, and its methodology is applied to the area covered by the National Forest Company (NFC), in England. After reviewing literature on landscape functions as systems, three GIS-based systems are used to explore and compare approaches to mapping landscape functions. This provides a basis to apply a Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) approach to the interpretation of landscape function interactions. Eight landscape function system conceptual models were developed, which were evaluated through workshops with NFC and their stakeholders. The initial literature review and GIS exercises broadly confirmed that, due to the limitations of available existing spatial data, mapping exercises could only be a complement to landscape multifunctionality assessments. However, an approach based on SSM, by placing stakeholder participation at the centre of its structured thinking process, advances on previous approaches. Not only did the models successfully depict interactions between landscape functions, but also they were evaluated as a useful approach to support knowledge generation and decision-making. SSM proved to be a qualitative approach that gave structure to multifunctionality complexity. This thesis proposes SSM as a methodology to support policy development on landscape function systems dynamics through the use of qualitative models and stakeholder participation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Landscape (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.692447
Depositing User: Dr Laura T Silva Alvarado
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2016 11:37
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13870

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