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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(4)

Landscape ecology: its role as a trans-disciplinary science for rangeland sustainability

Diane M. Pearson

School of Environment, Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and the Environment, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory 0909, Australia. Current address: Territory Natural Resource Management, GPO Box 2775, Darwin, NT 0801, Australia. Email: diane.pearson@territorynrm.org.au

The Rangeland Journal 35(4) 363-371 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ12067
Submitted: 11 September 2012  Accepted: 12 August 2013   Published: 30 September 2013

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The aim is to review landscape ecology and the contribution it can make to sustainable rangeland management, using Australia as an example. An examination is made of how much traditional ecology, as a discipline, influences landscape ecology in Australia. Also evaluated is whether, under this influence, landscape ecology is emerging as effectively as it could be as a trans-disciplinary science that can contribute significantly to rangeland sustainability. Surveys of landscape ecologists in Australia make it possible to classify Australian landscape ecology as being ‘unidirectional interdisciplinary’ in approach, with ecology being the coordinating discipline. The important contribution that research under this classification provides in terms of understanding structure, process, and change in rangelands is recognised and acknowledged. However, the question is raised as to whether following an ecological construct is constraining the application of landscape ecology more widely to address the complex environmental problems facing Australia’s (and the world’s) rangelands that also require consideration of the social and geographical aspects of landscapes. Recent shifts in the landscape ecological paradigm towards a science for sustainability that links science and practice, with particular focus on landscape design, social and cultural aspects of landscapes, and the value associated with landscape services, make landscape ecology increasingly more useful as a ‘goal-oriented’ approach for addressing rangeland sustainability. This paper suggests that those involved in rangeland management need to consider landscape ecology within its wider context. In doing so, it is argued that they should explore the possibilities it has to offer in dealing with development and management of rangelands, including interrelationships between people and landscapes, and to ensure ecosystem goods and services valued by people are preserved.

Additional keywords: culture, goal-oriented, interdisciplinary, landscape design, value.


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