Landscape planning to achieve sustainability : the IztacciÌhuatl-PopocateÌpetl region, Mexico, case study
The overall goal of this thesis is to investigate the applicability of a landscape planning
methodology that is founded on an ecosystem-based approach and focused on the delineation
of ecologically sensitive areas. Its design is concerned with an ecosystem-based management
approach as part of a broader landscape planning process that is intended to achieve
environmental sustainability objectives; the key idea is that an ecosystem/landscape scale may
well be the most important for the attainment of sustainability. Considering this, this research
supports the idea that the employment of a network of watershed-ecosystem units provides
an appropriate framework for planning towards sustainability at the landscape scale. In addition,
the design of this methodology also gives room to solve theoretical and practical problems.
The main theoretical problem is related to the generation of overall schemes that are
consistent with holistic-multidimensional viewpoints about patterns and processes in landscapes.
On the other hand, two practical problems are also confronted: the need to employ
ecological principles and spatial concepts in landscape planning and the development of strategies
to define and delineate areas of interest to planners. In this research this point is focused
on the delineation of ecologically sensitive areas.
In order to test the application of the planning methodology to a real-life context,
the Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl volcanoes National Park region of Mexico was selected.
This region is recognised as a typical example of a fragile mountain region.
The major contributions of the thesis are related to theoretical and practical
issues in an ecosystem-based management approach. In practical terms, results derived
from the practical case study provide important inputs (database, diagnosis and proposals)
to improve the planning process of the Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl region. Also, this
methodological approach can be useful to solve the problems linked to fragile mountain
ecosystems. It is concluded that ecosystem-based management is taking shape as an
ecologically well-founded potential landscape planning approach, capable of playing
the role of creating more sustainable regional systems and of searching for enduring
multifunctional landscapes for the future.