Welcome to LANDPATHS

The richness of nature is threatened in all kinds of landscapes – in forest and agricultural landscapes, in the seas and mountains, and in fact also in urban landscapes. Thousands of species in Sweden are placed on the science-based “red list”. Similarly, the ability of different landscapes to produce goods and services is undermined. Forests walks, bee pollination, fish stocks, reindeer grazing and shady trees in cities are all examples of nature values in landscapes that are beneficial for humans, but that cannot be taken for granted. Many such “ecosystem services” are threatened today. In fact, only one of sixteen Swedish environmental quality goals, as decided by the parliament, is achieved. The management of landscapes is poor. Neither political governance nor practitioners' actions is sufficient. Fundamental reforms are needed, from politics to practice. But what really needs to happen, and how can it be done in a way that creates broad support? This is where the research program LANDPATHS comes in.

The LANDPATHS´ programme focus on multifunctional landscapes

LANDPATHS is a research programme that aims at promoting multifunctional landscapes that are both biodiversity rich and provide multiple benefits for a range of actors.

Funding from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Uppsala University leads the project LANDPATHS together with researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Stockholm University and Södertörn UniversityThe Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) funds the project that will run for five years. 

By addressing governance and management challenges within a broad set of landscapes, and by applying cross-cutting and integrative analyses across landscapes, administrative levels, policy areas, etc. the LAND-PATHS programme will deliver innovative and practically applicable knowledge and relevant recommendations for practitioners and public agencies. The practical outcome of the programme will be a portfolio of implementable good practises and innovative management and governance tools and practises that facilitate cross-sectoral collaboration and support the development of landscapes that deliver multiple ecological and socio-economic functions while maintaining high biodiversity. The programme will contribute to achieving several important national and international policies, particularly on biodiversity and climate change.

The programme’s consortium consists of researchers with social and natural science expertise in biodiversity conservation, a broad experience of transdisciplinary work and a rich network of contacts among stakeholders in different sectors and governance contexts. The planned research will focus on key landscape governance and decision-making processes to strengthen biodiversity and landscape multifunctionality.

LANDPATHS is structured around a coordinating project (Subproject 1, SP1), which will develop a conceptual framework for the programme, conduct comparisons across different landscapes based on empirical data gathered in eight subprojects (SP2-9), and produce final recommendations and communication outputs. A coordinating (SP1) and three horizontal SPs (SP2-4) develop consistent theories, methods and analytical frameworks that guide co-production of knowledge in the landscape SPs5-9, and enable comparative and integrative analysis across landscapes.

Partners and subprograms

The programme employs a transdisciplinary approach, combining expertise of researchers and stakeholders to co-create and explore:

(1) a set of imaginaries of future multifunctional landscapes;

(2) scenarios, including barriers and opportunities, for achieving such futures;

(3) transformative governance pathways to catalyse such multifunctional landscapes.

The focus is on five types of landscape - forest, agricultural, sea and coast, urban and mountain landscapes (SPs5-9).


Coordinator (SP1 lead): Malgorzata Blicharska (Uppsala University)

Subproject leads:
SP2: Neil Powell (Uppsala University)
SP3: Tim Daw (Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre)
SP4: Mikael Karlsson (Uppsala University)
SP5: Sara Holmgren (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU)
SP6: Tuija Hilding-Rydevik (SLU)
SP7: Mikael Gilek (Södertörns University)
SP8: Marcus Hedblom (SLU)
SP9: Per Sandström (SLU)

LANDPATHS Subprojects

SP1: Coordinating project
SP1 is designed to ensure smooth coordination of the programme’s activities, across all SPs, through developing a conceptual standardisation of the programme and an overarching conceptual framework and review of state-of-the art research, as well as planning and implementing communication channels to facilitate continuous dialogue both across the consortium and with external actors. The coordinator will be responsible for planning and implementing the programme’s communication activities, in close collaborations with all partners, and assisted by the programme's communicators, in order to reach out effectively to decision-makers, the public and the scientific community. The findings from the other SPs will be cross-analysed and synthesised and conclusions and recommendations will be developed.

SP2: Imaginaries of future multifunctional landscapes
SP2 aims to mediate the reframing of the dominant narratives that inhibit transformations towards multifunctional and biodiverse landscapes by drawing on a co-creation approach. This will be achieved by supporting the emergence of imaginaries envisioning future biodiverse and multifunctional landscapes in a set of case studies (SPs5-9) to support co-design of pathways to sustainable futures (SP4).

SP3: Barriers, opportunities and scenarios for change
This subproject aims to understand how the different functionalities of each landscape connect, where dependencies between functions that constitute trade-offs or synergies exist, and where opportunities for change can be leveraged, and by whom. SP3 will identify the synergies and trade-offs between landscape functions in each case study of the landscape SPs5-9; understand regional and national connections across multifunctional landscapes to identify the higher level multifunctionality and interdependencies between cases (SP5-9), and identify barriers and leverage for change towards the imaginaries (SP2).

SP4: Transformative landscape governance pathways
SP4 aims to explore transformative landscape governance pathways in order to produce concrete policy recommendations that foster sustainable practises in biodiverse multifunctional landscapes. SP4 will contribute to (i) an improved understanding how general approaches and strategies in public policy affect landscape governance at large and how that may influence governance of specific landscape types; (ii) clarity, structure and analytical frames relevant for the quest for transformative governance of landscapes and large and in specific areas, and (iii) and a set of transformative landscape governance pathways and a series of policy proposals.

SP5: Forest landscapes
SP5 aims to explore barriers and drivers for transformation in the context of forest landscapes. We use multifunctional forest management as a meeting point for identifying socio-cultural factors impeding or facilitating more multifunctional management practises, and more integrated landscape decision-making. It will contribute to (i) a broadened understanding of the range of socio-cultural factors that may impede or facilitate the expanded use of multifunctional forestry and integrated forest decision making; (ii) development of targeted measurements that are sensitive to the breath of socio-cultural dimensions fostering/resisting transformative change in Swedish forestry across different contexts.

SP6: Agricultural landscapes
The aim of SP6 is to put the goal of governing transformation towards multifunctional agricultural landscapes in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), 2023-2027. It will contribute to: (i) deepening knowledge of the potential of the coming and environmentally reformed CAP as a transformation driver in relation to biodiversity and multifunctional governance in agriculture; (ii) shedding light on the CAP governing system from a change and learning point of view (transformation); (iii) providing a basis for development of a change theory in relation to the next round of CAP (2028 and forward) in relation to biodiversity and landscape multifunctionality.

SP 7: Marine/coastal landscapes
This SP aims to address the overarching research questions of LAND-PATHS (i.e. to identify and explore key future imaginaries, barriers/opportunities as well as to co-develop transformative pathways) in marine/coastal landscapes. While the primary empirical focus is on Swedish Baltic Sea coastal/marine settings, the SP acknowledges and addresses the multi-level challenges of the governance arrangements by review and comparison with a wider set of international contexts in the Baltic Sea and beyond.

Specifically, the objective is to scrutinise how marine/coastal governance arrangements and processes can be advanced to improve possibilities for addressing trade-offs and transforming negative conflicts between various uses, users and values, in support of biodiverse, multifunctional landscapes and sustainable use of coastal/marine space and resources.

SP 8: Urban landscapes
Main aim of SP8 is to find ways to overcome barriers in urban planning that hinder provisions for high quality green space that serves linked biodiversity, climate change (mitigation, adaptation), and human health goals. Additional aims are to offer governance recommendations for managing urban green spaces to serve these linked goals, and to find ways to highlight multifunctionality in relevant policies. We further aim to examine how urban densification over recent decades has entailed compensation by residents for inadequate green space, in support of future decision-making on linked densification-biodiversity-climate change-health issues. A final aim is to reveal what steps urban residents are willing to take to serve these interlinked biodiversity-climate change-health goals, and which potential tools and9 structures they need but lack to fulfil these.  

SP 9: Mountain landscapes
SP will explore the challenges that mountain areas face, such as conflicting pressures from many land users that may result in consequent effects on biodiversity. This will be done through a case study using the UNESCO National Heritage site Laponia, and its dependency on interconnectedness with the adjacent forested landscape. We will use the reindeer husbandry system as the testbed and indicator for working multifunctional landscapes. The case acts as an exemplification of the inter-landscape challenges that occur from the governance perspective, demonstrating how collaborative and integrated strategies for developing new governance strategies are critical for both viable sustainable landscape multifunctionality and thriving biodiversity. This SP will analyse drivers of conflicts and their sources in the management and governance of mountain areas and seek to co-produce, contribute and communicate useful knowledge towards local and landscape level solutions.

For more information about the overall project LANDPATHS contact:
Malgorzata Blicharska
Telephone: +46 18-471 7056

Mikael Karlsson
Telephone:+46 70-3162722

Last modified: 2022-09-23