Sustainable landscapes and landscape sustainability: A tale of two concepts

Bing Bing Zhou, Jianguo Wu, John M. Anderies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Landscape scientists have increasingly studied sustainability during the past three decades, with a plurality of perspectives and methods. However, a comprehensive review of the relevant literature is still lacking. Two concepts capture the core of these studies: sustainable landscapes (SL) and landscape sustainability (LS). Here we present a bibliometric analysis of 333 English papers published in SCI journals (i.e., indexed by Web of Science) during 1990–2017, whose titles, abstracts or keywords contain SL, LS, or both. Using multiple methods, including change-point detection, text and topic mining, and citation analysis, we found: (1) Sustainability studies of landscapes have entered a rapid growth phase since 2004–2006, as determined statistically by the annual publications and citations; (2) There have been many more studies focusing on the ecological and practical dimensions than sociocultural and theoretical dimensions; and (3) Influenced by advances in sustainability research in a broader science context, studies of SL and LS have become increasingly holistic, transdisciplinary, and normative. Our findings suggest that, to further advance landscape sustainability science, scholars need to be more explicit about the underlying sustainability perspective and associated scales of key terms (e.g., SL, LS, and ecosystem services) in specific studies, and need to put more emphasis on place-based case studies of various landscape unsustainability syndromes by integrating the sustainability science-based social-ecological systems and transdisciplinary perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-284
Number of pages11
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Landscape ecology
  • Landscape sustainability
  • Landscape sustainability science
  • Sustainability science
  • Sustainable landscapes
  • Unsustainability syndromes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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