Improving strategic planning for nature: panacea or pandoras box for the built and natural environment?

Alister Scott*, Matthew Kirby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper assesses how strategic planning for nature can be improved for England’s built andnatural environment using mainstreaming and landscape-scale concepts. Whilst both concepts feature in academic literature, there has been limited attention on their role as catalytic agents for strategic planning. Addressing this gap, evidence is used from two stakeholder workshops involving 62 senior policy experts managing a range of operational and hypothetical strategic spatial planning challenges. The results reveal a significantly weakened strategic planning arena characterised by policy disintegration, short termism and uncertainty. Key findings highlight the fallacy of pursuing strategic planning for nature in isolation from wider policy integration fusing environmental, economic and social components from the outset. Current barriers to progress include institutionalinertia, technocratic vocabularies and neoliberalist priorities exacerbated by a weak underlying theory. Conversely opportunities for mainstreaming processes may help knowledge generation and exchange within transdisciplinary partnerships, whilst landscape-scale thinking can improve understanding of issues using natures inherent geometry transforming processes and outcomes. The paper recommends the adoption of strategic planning pathways using mainstreaming and landscape-scale approaches working in tandem. Whilst focused on the English context, our findings are transferable to other planning systems in the Global North, especially those championing neoliberal market-led policies
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Feb 2024

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