Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 1:00 PM

The Importance of “Connectedness” in Assessing Sustainability of Our Global Landscape.

Bryan Pijanowski, Purdue Univ, Dept of Forestry and Natural Resources, 203 Forestry Bldg, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Humans are currently altering landscapes around the world at unprecedented rates.  Many of these changes are the direct result of exploiting natural resources for human use. As natural resource use of landscapes becomes more globally connected, understanding the relationship of landscapes in this global network of natural resource use becomes increasing important if we wish to establish a sustainable society.  Traditionally, fields such as landscape ecology have focused on the patterns and processes within landscapes but have ignored the interconnectedness of landscapes, especially with regards to sustainable use.  I present a conceptual and mathematical framework of connected landscapes in a global network that attempts to illustrate how resource use in one landscape is tied to other landscapes around the world.  A simple equilibrium model is developed that quantifies sustainability of individual landscapes with respect to material flows in and out of a landscape and the natural regenerative biocapacity of landscapes as it relates to management and ecological processes. I conclude with comments on how this conceptual and mathematical framework relate to ecological hierarchy theory, ecological footprints and the governing of the commons as well as how this framework attempts to help us understand the importance of spatial and temporal scales in assessing sustainability.