By Beth Cole, Andrew Vincent Bradley, Simon Willcock, Emma Gardner, Ewan Allinson, Julia Touza, Alex Hagen-Zanker, Adam Calo, Sergei Petrovskii, Jingyan Yu, and Mick Whelan.
Interventions in landscapes alter human and environmental systems and can substantially affect human and natural stakeholders in many ways. It is therefore important to support decision makers with frameworks to systematically account for the consequences of their decisions. The problem that we address is that such existing frameworks are naturally linked to a particular world view and when applied in isolation, are therefore bound to overlook key forms of evidence and fail to understand the consequences of landscape decisions.
We propose the use of a holistic framework consisting of multiple lenses based on different world views, knowledge and evidence, that can in combination reflect more fully the complexity of place and lead to better informed landscape decisions.
The Power and Market Gain lens is focused on the financial interests (profit) of organisations and people that have specific leverage over the decision area.
The Ecosystem Services lens focuses on the value environmental goods and services provide to society, framing land resources as assets essential for the flow of ecosystem services.
The Place-based Identity lens focuses on components of landscape character that are enshrined in the relationships between the local population and the landscapes and environments with which they co-identify.
The Ecocentric Lens offers a framework where, all species equally and the focus of decisions should rest on the health of ecosystems and biodiversity.
The recommendation is to embed the four lenses more fully in the governance of landscapes, especially in the context of participatory decision-making. The lenses can then be a helpful conceptual framework – and literally a checklist – to assure that in the process of public participation an appropriate range of stakeholders, experts and advocates is represented, an appropriate mix of evidence is considered, and that unavoidable compromises and trade-offs can be made with transparency to the full range of consequences involved.