Sense Shaping Place: Repositioning the Role of Sense of Place in Social-Ecological Systems from a Bioregional Planning Viewpoint

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Muhammad Farid Azizul, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Stephen Knight-Lenihan, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Marjorie van Roon, University Technology Malaysia, Malaysia
Published: April 2016

Citation: Azizul, M. F., Knight-Lenihan, S., & van Roon, M. (2016). Sense Shaping Place: Repositioning the Role of Sense of Place in Social-Ecological Systems from a Bioregional Planning Viewpoint. IAFOR Journal of Sustainability, Energy & the Environment, 3(1).


Dynamic landscape change affects and is affected by human attitudes. The effect of pattern on process has been investigated mainly in landscape ecological sciences, focusing on whether and how the human influence on spatial organization of landscape creates stable, functioning ecosystems. In earlier ecological studies, despite embedding their values, perception and attitudes when delineating a place, humans have been treated as an independent, separate entity. Equally, the ecological imperative expressed through operational models of conservation planning changes the physical organization of landscape in such a way that it affects public connection to landscape and influences views and attitudes towards ecosystem governance. A more comprehensive understanding is needed of these two phenomena, addressing the linkages between ecosystem conservation and how people respond to dynamic change. Therefore we employ ‘sense of place’ as a broad concept to assess and evaluate the way in which people shape their responsiveness to place through a bioregional planning approach. . This paper focuses on the attitudinal dimension of sense of place in planning-based activities. The results suggest that although place connection strongly empowers protective and ethical-based actions, it remains unclear how planning renders the negotiation of the different actors’ values with respect to the concept of place. A conceptual framework is proposed, to assess the role of sense of place as an integrative concept in understanding the linkages of social-ecological systems and the need for future research to investigate how planning is receptive to the multitude of actor’s values and attitudes that shape social-ecological changes across the landscape.


sense of place, bioregional planning, environmental ethic, social-ecological systems, landscape planning