Fostering biocultural diversity in landscapes through place-based food networks: a “solution scan” of European and Japanese models

Tobias Plieninger*, Ryo Kohsaka, Claudia Bieling, Shizuka Hashimoto, Chiho Kamiyama, Thanasis Kizos, Marianne Penker, Pia Kieninger, Brian J. Shaw, Giles Bruno Sioen, Yuki Yoshida, Osamu Saito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many Japanese and European landscapes harbor biocultural diversity that has been shaped by human agency over centuries. However, these landscapes are threatened by widespread land abandonment, land-use changes, and urbanization. The aim of this study is to use a “solution scanning” method to identify place-based food networks in Europe and Japan that reinforce linkages between biological and cultural diversity in landscapes. In our analysis of 26 European and 13 Japanese cases, we find that place-based food networks are typically located in heterogeneous landscapes, are driven by civil society (and less by markets), and act at a local scale. Regional identity is the most frequently addressed societal issue. Scenery, rural tourism, and nature conservation are more important motivations in Europe, and physical well-being and revitalization of local economies are more relevant in Japan. European models are typically associated with achieving biodiversity conservation and socio-cultural tradition outcomes, and Japanese models more with public health and nutrition outcomes. We discuss the potential for transfer of approaches from Japan to Europe (e.g., models that tackle the aging of rural societies), and from Europe to Japan (e.g., models that build explicit connections between food production and biodiversity conservation). We conclude with a list of recommended policy measures, e.g., the creation of a flexible legal framework that protects the interests of and reduces political constraints for collaborative efforts to biocultural diversity in landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Agroecology
  • Alternative food networks
  • Cultural landscapes
  • Food systems
  • Landscape stewardship
  • Sustainable landscape management


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