The problem of institutional fit in social-ecological systems has been empirically documented and conceptually discussed for decades, yet there is a shortage of approaches to systematically and quantitatively examine the level of fit. Here we address this gap focusing on spatial fit in an urban and peri-urban regional landscape. Such landscapes typically exhibit significant fragmentation of remnant habitats, which can limit critical species dispersal. This may have detrimental effects on species persistence and ecosystem functioning, if land use is planned without consideration of the spatial patterns of fragmentation. Managing habitat fragmentation is particularly challenging when the scale of fragmentation reach beyond the control of single managers, thereby requiring different actors to coordinate their activities to address the problem at the appropriate scale.We present a research approach that maps patterns of collaborations between actors who manage different parts of a landscape, and then relates these patterns to potential dispersal patterns. We apply our approach to evaluate the fit between a collaborative wetland-management network comprising all 26 municipalities in the Stockholm County in Sweden, with an ecologically defined network of dispersed but ecologically interconnected wetlands. Many wetlands in this landscape are either intersected by the boundary between two or more municipalities, or located close to such boundaries, which implies a degree of ecological interconnectedness and a need for inter-municipal coordination related to wetland management across boundaries. We first estimate the level of ecological connectivity between wetlands in neighboring municipalities, and then use this estimate to elaborate the level of social-ecological fit vis-à-vis inter-municipal collaboration. We find that the level of fit is generally weak. Also, we identify critical misalignments of ecological connectivity and inter-municipal collaboration, respectively, as well as collaborations that represent an adequate alignment. These findings inform on where to most effectively allocate limited resources of collaborative capacity to enhance the level of social-ecological fit. Our approach and results are graphically illustrated using maps, which facilitates the potential application of this method in land-use planning practice.
Connectivity; graph theory; Institutional fit; Landscape; Network; Planning; Scale mismatch; Spatial mismatch; Stockholm; Urban; Wetland