Landscape monitoring: towards integrating social- and natural-science indicators

Marcel Hunziker, WSL,

Felix Kienast, WSL,


In the proposed session we will explore the state of the art of monitoring society-landscape relationships in Europe. Results from all over Europe shall be shared, discussed and compared. We also invite contributions focusing on methodological developments, e.g. qualitative methods, diverse survey techniques, or crowd-research approaches. However, a key element of this session will be the exchange about attempts to integrate social-science approaches and natural-science approaches within comprehensive landscape monitoring systems. This research is timely as the implementation of European Landscape Convention has to be evaluated with meaningful indicators.


Worldwide, a variety of national landscape monitoring instruments are being developed or are applied by governmental agencies or NGOs. One aim of these monitoring systems is to evaluate the temporal developments of key landscape elements. As evaluation results not only depend on physical landscape development but also on the evaluators' criteria of evaluation, they also depend on developments of societal values. Therefore, more and more countries monitor the temporal development of landscape-related issues in society such as respective values, needs and preferences, people's relationship with nature, and behavior.

In the proposed session we aim at exploring the state of the art of monitoring of the society-landscape relationship in Europe, including social demands on landscapes, respective values, conflicts, and interaction patterns. Methods and results from all over Europe shall be shared, discussed and compared. A special emphasis will be given to approaches that cover at least two time periods or are foreseen to do so.

In addition, we envisage a focus on (future) methodological developments. One strand thereby might be data gathering and analysis techniques from various qualitative methodologies (interviews, group discussions, participant observation etc.), diverse survey techniques (paper-pencil, phone, internet-panels) to crowd-research approaches such as analyzing social-media data (e.g. photographs with location and description) which could be e.g. analyzed for sense-of-place studies.

Another important strand will be the one of linking social-science monitoring with natural-science approaches by means of, e.g., comprehensive statistical modeling. The expected outcomes would be a suite of models that predict, e.g., (perceived) landscape quality and its changes on the basis of physical attributes of the landscape and social data such as place of residence, education, environmental values, landscape preferences, etc. of the people.

What can participants expect to learn?

Participants get an idea of approaches to monitor the landscape, including the perception of landscape quality and approaches. We envisage presentations that show attempts to integrate indicators measuring physical changes as well as their perception, representing comprehensive landscape monitoring systems. This will be attractive for both academics and practice-oriented conference participants.


Undecided, eventually a special issue of a journal.