Using concepts of connectivity in challenges regarding land and water management (flooding, erosion, nutrient leaching, landslides) can only be fully harnessed if knowledge is communicated well between scientists and stakeholders. Proper communication requires prior understanding of end-users' perception of connectivity as a useful framework. Therefore, we analysed (a) perceptions of 'connectivity' for stakeholders involved in water and land management across Europe, (b) potential for stakeholders to apply connectivity-related measures in their management decisions, (c) stakeholders' biggest challenges in water and land management, and (d) stakeholders' expectations for future connectivity research agendas. We studied 85 questionnaires from 19 countries using a grounded theory approach. One third of stakeholders understood connectivity in its scientific context, whereas 39% perceived connectivity indirectly through their personal experiences (e.g., water and sediment fluxes and erosion). Half of stakeholders' perceived links and challenges were related to availability of data and methods, communication, and institutions or policy, whereas others believed they were related to water quality and quantity, soil erosion and quality, and climate change. Half of the stakeholders considered connectivity management important, and one third showed high interest in managing connectivity. Adopting connectivity into management is hindered by institutional- and policy-based management limitations, insufficient data and methods, and ineffective knowledge transfer. Explicitly considering heterogeneity of stakeholder perceptions is required for projects regarding management of connectivity at European, national, and local scales.
- Knowledge transfer
- Management potential
- Water and sediment connectivity