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A systems approach to the research of people's relationships with English hedgerows

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  • Ecology


Although complexity is often recognised as a feature of landscapes, any assessment of their value and prescriptions for management are usually based on a narrow, reductionist framework, involving either just wildlife or people but rarely both. This paper demonstrates how systems ideas have been applied to provide a broader approach to researching hedgerows in the UK, drawing on the idea that holistic thinking brings together multiple views of stakeholders so as to identify future options. Hedgerows in the UK are valued for ecological, functional, historical, visual and personal reasons and they are perceived very differently by those with direct or indirect relationships with them. The cultural dimensions of hedgerows and their implications for future hedged landscapes were investigated through the collection and exploration of different stakeholder perspectives. Based on the findings of this research, it is argued that considering both the objective and the subjective hedgerow values of stakeholders offers opportunities to examine the different boundaries to their systems of interest and so help to include and accommodate complex human factors.

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