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Policy Interactions in Human–Landscape Systems

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2013. Policy Interactions in Human–Landscape Systems. Environmental Management, 51.


Given the heightened pace and extent of human interactions with landscapes, there is increasing recognition of the interdependence of hydrogeomorphological, ecological, and human systems in understanding human–landscape interactions. There is also widespread agreement for greater integration across disciplinary boundaries to generate new knowledge urgently needed for theory building to understand, predict, and respond to rapidly changing human–landscape systems. The development of new conceptual frameworks, methods, tools, and collaborations linking across the natural and social sciences are key elements to such integration. In an effort to contribute to a broader conceptual framework for human–landscape systems, this paper describes how environmental policy research has contributed to four integrative themes—thresholds and tipping points; spatial scales and boundaries; feedback loops; and time scales and lags—developed by participants in an NSF-sponsored interdisciplinary workshop. As a broad and heterogeneous body of literature, environmental policy research reflects a diversity of methodological and theoretical approaches around institutions, actors, processes, and ideas. We integrate across multiple subfields and research programs to help identify complementarities in research that may support future interdisciplinary collaborative work. We conclude with a discussion of future research questions to help advance greater interdisciplinary research around human–landscape systems.

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