Using a multi-lens framework for landscape decisions

Beth Cole (Lead / Corresponding author), Andrew V. Bradley, Simon Willcock, Emma Gardner, Ewan Allinson, Alex Hagen-Zanker, Adam J. Calo, Julia Touza, Sergei Petrovskii, Jingyan Yu, Mick Whelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Landscape decisions are multi-faceted. Framing landscape decision-making as a governance process that requires a collective approach can encourage key stakeholders to come together to co-inform a discussion about their priorities and what constitutes good governance, leading to more holistic landscape decisions. In this paper, we recognise that a suite of complementary and multi-dimensional approaches are in practice used to inform and evaluate land use decisions. We have called these approaches ‘lenses’ because they each provide a different perspective on the same problem. The four lenses are (i) power and market gain, (ii) ecosystem services, (iii) place-based identity and (iv) ecocentric. Each brings a different set of evidence and viewpoints (narrative, qualitative and experiential, as well as quantitative metrics such as monetary) to the decision-making process and can potentially reveal problems and solutions that others do not. Considering all lenses together allows dialogue to take place which can reveal the true complexities of landscape decision-making and can facilitate more effective and more holistic decisions. Employing the lenses requires governance structures that give equal weight to all lenses, enable dialogue and coexistence between top down and bottom-up approaches, and permit adaptation to local and granular place-specifics rather than developing “one-size-fits-all” solutions. We propose that formalising the process of balancing all the lenses requires public participation, and that a lens approach should be used to support landscape decisions alongside a checklist that facilitates transparency in the conversation, showing how all evidence has been considered and critically assessed. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1071
Number of pages22
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number4
Early online date31 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • co-informing
  • ecocentric
  • ecosystem services
  • landscape decisions
  • participatory approaches
  • place-based identity
  • power and market gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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