Landscape diversity enhances the resilience of populations, ecosystems and local economy in rural areas

P. Schippers, C.M. van der Heide, H.P. Koelewijn, M.A.H. Schouten, M.J.M. Smulders, Marleen Cobben, M. Sterk, C.C. Vos, J. Verboom

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In today’s world, rapid environmental and economic developments and changes pose major threats to ecosystems and economic systems.
In this context we explore if resilience can be increased by the spatial configuration of the rural landscape in an integrated ecological-genetic-economic way.
We study the concept of landscape diversity from genetic, ecological and economic perspectives.
We show that small-scale landscapes are potentially more resilient than large-scale landscapes, provided that ecosystem patch sizes are sufficiently large to support genetic diversity and ecosystem and economic functions. The basic premise underlying this finding is that more variation in a landscape generally leads to greater genetic and species diversity. This, in turn, stabilizes populations and strengthens the different ecosystem elements in the landscape. Greater variation in ecosystem elements provides for more varied ecosystem services, which may enhance the resilience of the local economy.
We conclude that a resilient landscape is shaped within the context of economic and ecological possibilities and constraints, and is determined by landscape diversity and spatial organisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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