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Working Group 3DLM – 3D Landscape metrics

3DLM – 3D Landscape metrics

The goal of the working group (WG-3DL) is to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration in 3D landscape metrics development and application and to bring particularly together researchers in landscape ecology, wildlife ecology, regional planning and impact assessment as well as mathematics and informatics.


Landscape metrics are related to the patch-corridor-matrix model, which conceptualizes landscapes as two-dimensional mosaics consisting of discrete patches. Despite its universality, the patch-corridor-matrix model has some important limitations. For instance, its planimetric character provokes information losses by neglecting the third dimension of the terrain. Previous studies addressed this issue, by pointing out that the existing set of metrics could be extended by adding attributes related to topography such as height, slope or aspect to address ecological processes dependent from horizontal and lateral fluxes of water, energy and matter in more detail. We intend to develop approaches for 3D landscape metrics and cooperate on their test and implementation. We envision organizing a series of workshops and cooperate on publications that demonstrate the usability and added-value of 3D metrics in landscape ecology.

Forthcoming activities

In September 2020 we envisage to organize a session entitled “Novel technologies, instruments, modelling and knowledge implementation in Geo and Life Sciences” as part of the online conference Socio-Ecological Practice Research for Sustainable Landscape Governance.

Past Activities

In 2019 we organized, at the 10th IALE World Congress in Milan, the symposium “3-D landscape metrics and visualization techniques - applications in spatial planning, environmental assessment and participatory decision processes”.
Link to the Symposium (iale2019)

In 2018 several discussions took place at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The interactions provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on 3D approaches, to progress with the preparation of a joint synthesis paper and to discuss topics of potential project proposals.

In 2017 the Symposium entitled “3D Landscapes. Metrics, techniques and applications” was organized as part of the IALE 2017 European Landscape Ecology Congress in Ghent, Belgium.
Link to the Symposium (

The meetings provided an excellent opportunity to the participants for sharing research experiences and for presenting outcomes of recent studies, addressing the role played by 3D patterns in ecological processes. The talks covered various facets of 3D approaches in landscape ecology, ranging from methodological advances (potential 3D metrics and software tools, analyses at multiple scales) to areas of application (vegetation structure, urban studies, landscape transformation, land use scenario development). Several challenges for future research were sketched, such as scale dependencies of available data, the role played by novel methods, techniques and technologies, integration of 2D and 3D formats, relationship with the temporal resolution, and, as a key point, the need of applying the outcomes of 3D-based assessments in relationship to planning and participatory decision processes. In a nutshell, the discussions emphasized the need of deepening the knowledge regarding the “3D" topic in landscape ecology. 

Application areas

We concentrate on the following application areas:

  1. Implementation through assessing 3D landscape representations by our suggested indicators (3D representation means to include vertical structures determined by topography and land cover such as vegetation cover, buildings, etc.). As part of the WG 3DLM-Service Point we developed a freely available software instrument that enables the detection of patterns in a three-dimensional context.
  2. Identification of potential future habitats and migration routes of flagship species; this addresses the question how such species select their current or potential habitats, how they will move and widen their areas in the future and where potential conflicts with human uses (example wolf, lynx and bear) will arise and how these could be solved through changing the 3D shape of landscapes
  3. Support of regional planning and development processes regarding landscape design for maintaining / increasing the aesthetical value (preferential sites for wind parks and other aesthetically relevant infrastructures)

Suggested Goals and Activities

  1. Organize periodic meetings of the working group
  2. Develop and test suitable tools / software applications
  3. Enhance collaboration with landscape ecologists working in related topics (e.g. landscape genetics).
  4. Increase visibility of this research topic among scientists working in related fields as well as potential beneficiaries such as planners or other categories of stakeholders.


[1]  Mihai Stupariu – confirmed

[2]  Ileana Stupariu – confirmed

[3]  Christine F├╝rst – confirmed

[4]  Felix Kienast – confirmed

[5]  Susanne Frank – confirmed

[6]  Malgorzata Grodzinska-Jurzak – confirmed

[7]  Marcin Rechcinski – confirmed

[8]  Kalev Sepp – confirmed

[9]  Miguel Villoslada Pecina – confirmed

[10]  Urmas Peterson – confirmed

[11]  Ulrich Walz – confirmed

[12]  Ralf Syrbe –  confirmed

[13]  Piotr Tryjanowski – invited

[14]  Ulo Mander – invited

[15]  Giovanni Sanesi – invited

[16]  Raffaele Lafortezza – invited

[17]  Emilio Diaz – invited

[18]  Jose Roces Diaz – invited

[19]  Pedro Alvarez Alvarez – invited

[20]  Paola Isaacs Cubides – confirmed 

[21]  Marta Kubacka – confirmed

[22]  John Wolf – confirmed

[23]  Nora Fagerholm – confirmed




International Association for Landscape Ecology

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