30 - Integration of landscape ecology and landscape architecture: an evolutionary and reciprocal process  pp. 307-315

Integration of landscape ecology and landscape architecture: an evolutionary and reciprocal process

By Jack Ahern

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Landscape architecture is a professional field that is significantly focused on landscape pattern – the spatial configuration of landscapes at many scales. Landscape architecture is informed by scientific knowledge and aspires to provide aesthetic expressions in landscapes across a range of spatial scales. Landscape ecology has been defined as the study of the effect of landscape pattern on process, in heterogeneous landscapes, across a range of spatial and temporal scales (Turner, 1989). The logical reasons for integrating these two fields are clear and compelling, with a great potential to support sustainable landscapes through ecologically based planning and design.

The integration of landscape ecology and landscape architecture holds great promise as a long-awaited marriage of basic science and its application; of rational and intuitive thinking; of the interaction of landscape pattern and ecological process over varied scales of space and time, with explicit inclusion of the “habitats,” activities, and values of humans. To the optimistic, this integration promises to provide a robust and appropriate basis for planning and design of sustainable environments. The focus on application is integral to most definitions of landscape ecology but has been slow to gain complete acceptance, or to demonstrate widespread success in “real world” landscape architectural applications. Unfortunately, the promise of integration remains more of a goal than a reality at this time.

I believe it is instructive to see the integration of landscape ecology and landscape design as an evolutionary, three-stage process (Fig. 30.1).

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