Volume 1 Issue 2 (2005): New Challenges for Research Practice: Natural Resource Management in Australia
Main Articles

Integration Research for Shaping Sustainable Regional Landscapes

David Brunckhorst
Institute for Rural Futures and UNESCO Centre for Bioregional Resource Management, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, AUSTRALIA
Published October 17, 2005
  • landscape ecology,
  • Turning Points,
  • institutions,
  • integration,
  • social-ecological systems,
  • natural resource policy
  • ...More


Ecological and social systems are complex and entwined. Complex social-ecological systems interact in a multitude of ways at many spatial scales across time. Their interactions can contribute both positive and negative consequences in terms of sustainability and the context in which they exist affecting future landscape change. Non-metropolitan landscapes are the major theatre of interactions where large-scale alteration occurs precipitated by local to global forces of economic, social, and environmental change. Such regional landscape effects are critical also to local natural resource and social sustainability. The institutions contributing pressures and responses consequently shape future landscapes and in turn influence how social systems, resource users, governments, and policy makers perceive those landscapes and their future. Science and policy for "sustainable" futures need to be integrated at the applied "on-ground" level where products and effects of system interactions are fully included, even if unobserved. Government agencies and funding bodies often consider such research as "high-risk". This paper provides some examples of interdisciplinary research that has provided a level of holistic integration through close engagement with landholders and communities or through deliberately implementing integrative and innovative on-ground experimental models. In retrospect, such projects have to some degree integrated through spatial (if not temporal) synthesis, policy analysis, and (new or changed) institutional arrangements that are relevant locally and acceptable in business, as well as at broader levels of government and geography. This has provided transferable outcomes that can contribute real options and adaptive capacity for suitable positive futures.