Integrating landscape and water resources planning with focus on sustainability


  • H.S. Ferreira
  • A. Botequilha Leitão


The global freshwater crisis demands new forms of action if further environmental and social impacts are to be avoided. Traditional sectoral and technologically based approaches have proven to be ineffective in addressing this crisis, since they disregard the multiple and complex roles of water in the landscape, and subsequently the need for cooperation across the many sectors involved in water-resources planning and management, including institutions and citizens. As an invisible resource, groundwater has been particularly affected by the traditional sectoral approach. Moving towards sustainability demands integration at multiple levels (e.g. land, water, social-natural, surface-underground), which in turn calls for transdisciplinarity between academic disciplines (including sciences and humanities), practitioners and stakeholders. In this paper we argue that land and water-resources planning and management paradigms are converging in this direction. However there is room (and interest) for further convergence under a landscape-ecology-based approach. In order to proceed with this convergence several barriers must be overcome: the lack of a common approach and language, a tradition of disciplinary approaches that is hard to change, the higher demands of transdisciplinary (in terms of complexity, resources and time) when compared to the traditional disciplinary approaches, etc. We argue that applying landscape ecology and the sustainable landscape-planning framework can contribute to solve several inherent shortcomings of the current water-resources planning paradigm, including lack of integration of related subjects (such as land use) and the need for transdisciplinarity. This paper outlines a course of research that will contribute to an operational method for sustainable integrated (ground)water-resource planning