Building capacity for resilient and inclusive conservation of cultural landscapes

Jan Kuiper
Published: 14 April 2021
Last edited: 14 April 2021
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In mixed landscapes defined by coexisting land uses, landscape quality is an outcome of a confluence of actions by local actors with diverse, ever-changing and potentially conflicting needs, interests and desires. We present an approach to building capacity among local actors to develop collective strategies for navigating the system towards a broad collectively defined vision. The presented approach is adapted from a participatory resilience assessment and includes a series of workshops and meetings. The process starts with a baseline inventory to surface people’s values, knowledges, problems, and preferences, along with the identification of alternative management strategies and their actions. This inventory feeds into a deliberation on how multiple parallel strategies may coexist, complement or replace each other and can be coordinated to maintain overall landscape quality. We piloted the approach in Västra Hargs Lövskogar nature reserve in Sweden.


North Europe
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
Temperate deciduous forest
Access and benefit sharing
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Forest Management
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Sustainable livelihoods
Terrestrial spatial planning
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Resilience and disaster risk management
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations


Västra Hargs Kyrka, 595 91 Mjölby, Sweden
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Västra Hargs Lövskogar nature reserve and its surrounding mosaic landscape are defined by more or less conspicuous edges and boundaries that simultaneously separate and connect different parts of the landscape. This diversity is a source both of great richness and of tensions and conflict between coexisting interests and values. The inherently shared governance of the landscape faces a number of challenges: the oak woodlands are slowly degrading while the old pastures face afforestation and climate change is increasing risks of droughts and wildfires. Moreover, nuisance species such as the spruce bark beetle and wild boars give rise to conflicts over land management, while economic interests in forestry and agriculture diverge from recreational interests and long-term biodiversity conservation targets. These interacting challenges call for an inclusive approach to landscape governance that strengthens the collective capacity to deal with conflicts, uncertainties and future needs.


The reserve is situated in the middle of a transition gradient from intensive agriculture to dense forests. Beneficiaries are land owners and small scale business (agriculture and forestry), residents, visitors etc. 


How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks together shape the process for building collective capacity for the management of cultural landscapes over time. 


Dozens of local actors and stakeholders have been actively engaging in our process and through that gained a better understanding of contemporary and future challenges, and how they all are part of the solution. Inspired by this engagement, a new management council for the protected area was erected where different actors can meet regularly to coordinate and plan ahead. 


Jan Kuiper

Thomas Johansson, manager at the nature reserve Västra Hargs Lövskogar, had long had the idea of starting a local management council in Västra Harg. Land owners, local organizations and farmers are all involved in the use and management of the area and need to coordinate their activities. In October 2020, an ENVISION workshop gathered local and regional actors to discuss how to maintain and develop the values of the mosaic landscape embedding the Västra Harg village and protected area. During the workshop, the collaborative spirit of the local community was apparent and it served to gather additional momentum. In March 2021, Thomas and his colleagues organized a first meeting where it was decided to form a new management council for the protected area where the different actors can meet regularly to coordinate and plan ahead. (The Envision team of researchers hope to be able to continue to follow this exciting new development.)

Contributed by

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Jan Kuiper Stockholm Resilience Centre

Other contributors

Erik Andersson
Stockholm Resilience Centre
My Sellberg
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Andra Milcu
University of Helsinki
Sara Zaman
University of Helsinki
Anneli Lundgren
The County Administrative Board of Östergötland
Sofie Hellman
The County Administrative Board of Östergötland
Nicklas Jansson
The County Administrative Board of Östergötland
Thomas Johansson
The County Administrative Board of Östergötland