event 31 ago. 2018 time 09:00

Session at RGS 2018 // Landscaping Ecosystem Services – A Landscape-Nexus Approach: Meaning, Narrative and Integration

This talk will present work that builds on and extends recent research arguing that landscape, both conceptually and functionally, acts as a cross-cutting theme to ground ecosystem service frameworks – rendering their conceptual abstractness into a form more susceptible to decision-making processes. However, we do not simply extend these previous arguments; instead, by combining our vision of landscape with a nexus perspective (i.e., the interrelated sectors of water-energy-food-environment) we provide a new Landscape-Nexus Approach (LNA) that weaves, like a needle and thread, landscape and ecosystem services through the heart of current sustainability debates whilst at the same time bridging environmental, social, economic and political spheres.

category Sessions, Panels and Side Events tag Ecosystems
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Thus, from an ecosystem service standpoint, LNA improves both its practical, policy and governance relevance as well as capacity to accommodate complex socio-cultural processes. Overall, our argument is that the LNA affords a much more far reaching, credible and tangible social-ecological scaffold upon which ecosystem service frameworks can be developed. In doing so, the talk will explore – briefly - the multidimensional concept of ‘landscape’ emphasizing its biophysical, psychological, social, cultural, economic and political dimensions.

Building on this, we will introduce the concept of complexity and the nexus and develop our LNA thesis, demonstrating how it progresses beyond current ecosystem-based approaches. We will show that landscape is a co-produced and highly complex concept, and that via an LNA provides a far richer understanding of social-ecological systems and human-nature relations, improving its practical decision-making and overall policymaking relevance for natural resource governance issues across the nexus.


  • Adam Hejnowicz (University of York, UK)
  • Sue E. Hartley (University of York, UK)
  • Jeremy Phillipson (Newcastle University, UK)
  • Frances Rowe (Newcastle University, UK)
  • Murray A. Rudd (World Maritime University, Sweden)
  • Piran CL White (University of York, UK)

Chair: Kirsty Blackstock, James Hutton Institute, UK

About this Session

The concept of the food-energy-water-environment nexus has been in vogue since being identified as part of the ‘perfect storm’ of drivers on society by the UN in 2011. It has become a narrative to try to capture and explain the systemic nature of global wicked problems; and also to provide innovative solution to these wicked problems. For some, it is an invitation to grapple with the persistence of complex socio-ecological challenges and offer a site for transformation in our relationship to the material landscapes. For others, it remains a technical challenge to be resolved through optimisation of resource use in any given landscape. As social scientists, we are interested in how institutions, governance and management lie at the heart of either approach to the nexus in specific places and spaces.

The session "Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (1): Speed Talks" at the Annual Conference 2018 of the Royal Geographical Society involves contributions from those involved in Water-Energy-Food nexus research or those trying to manage or govern the nexus in practice, asking them to reflect on the following questions:

  • To what extent can the nexus be managed or governed?
  • To what extent does adopting a nexus perspective improve the governance of social-ecological systems?
  • Has the narrative of the nexus simulated innovative approaches or do the same fundamental governance and management challenges apply?
  • Are there new actors or sites for action emerging from taking a nexus lens?
  • Are new methodologies emerging from taking a nexus lens?
  • What can we learn from other governance and management domains; and what can nexus scholarship offer to others?

This session will consist of grouped speed talks followed by small group discussions with the presenters. The sister session Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (2) will involve a workshop based around a rapid synthesis of the main points.

Where and when

Part of Session "Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (1): Speed Talks"

31 Aug 2018

Glamorgan Building
Seminar Room -1.80

More information


Cecilia Vey


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