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Stakeholders creating land use visions

 

In the course of the VOLANTE project, sixty-nine European stakeholders have created their desired visions about how Europe landscapes will look in 2040. Being of different ages, EU nationalities and cultural backgrounds, and coming from a variety of organisations in business, government, research and civil society, they represented the main land use sectors. The 69 stakeholders were carefully chosen in order to make sure that the group included a broad set of perspectives from pertinent sides of policy, economy and society: from entrepreneurs to policy-makers, from architects and local city planners to bird watchers and farmers. In order to develop visions, each stakeholder joined one professionally facilitated workshop for two days, with workshops bringing together separately the viewpoints on nature conservation and recreation; food, bio-energy and timber production; settlements and transport; and energy and water.

Stakeholders were invited to imagine the future land use they wished for, describing it as if they were living in the future now, with their current age. Particular attention was paid to the fact that it is so difficult to think about the future and make these thoughts and ideas comprehensible and explicit for discussion.

Figure 3

Visions were created in a progressive way during the two days, and the stakeholders worked individually and in groups. They started with individual reflections, and then were divided into coherent groups based on the way they wanted land to be used by their sector/topic of expertise in the future. These groups developed fifteen sectorial and finally societal visions. Sharing their thoughts during the group discussions stimulated the creation of their common group visions (Figure 3). They presented their individual and groups visions at the end of the workshop in an exposition, which stimulated identifying of similaritiesand differences between visions.

 Figure 3 Stakeholders sharing their visions

 

Figure 4

The work on visions was imaginative and, at the same time, very much hands-on. Cards were filled out, posters painted, photos collated, charts filled in, stories written and maps adapted and redrawn. This process was not arbitrary or coincidental – it followed a carefully developed and applied method allowing similarities and differences to show, refine and clarify (Figure 4). This created the space to think further, to dare, try out and then come back to an agreed design of the desired future.

 Figure 4 Exposition of the stakeholder visions                        

 

 figure 5

Figure 5 Internet-based Canvas for the individual visions of future living (left) and for the sectorial visions on settlement development (right)

As a further support to this co-creative process, two computer-based instruments were developed, one to broaden the individual visioning in an interactive visual survey (Figure 5 left), and the other to link developing group or sectorial visions to overarching themes (Figure 5 right). These are called ‘canvas tools’ as they resemble a white painting surface where to place elements for the visions. Goal of the tools is to support, elicit and analyse rich visions. There are three notable aspects of these tools. Firstly, as in the hands-on visioning, images may overcome language barriers in a workshop, make concepts more explicit, and stimulate associations that widen the scope of the discussion. Secondly, the images from which stakeholders could choose, included information that would facilitate the further processing of the vision results.Materials used as content in the tools were provided by the researchers involved in the modelling. They hence enabled to complement the qualitative hands-on visioning above. Finally, the results of the participants’ efforts are saved digitally to be directly accessible for further analysis and comparison at later stages.

The fifteen resulting rich visions offered multifaceted future scenarios through images, graphs, indications of trends, analyses of relationships between elements, descriptions, land cover maps, and video recordings. The material was carefully structured before being analysed, taking into consideration other land use visions documented for Europe. The visions were then deconstructed and cross-analysed in terms of how they approached land use intensity, land use patterns and the extent of land cover, as well as the role played by several key drivers of change (economic, technological, social & behavioural and demographic). Finally, they were clustered according to their similarities. These clustered visions were presented and discussed in two workshops with a subgroup of the 69 stakeholders, resulting in the three consolidated visions described in the next sections: Best Land in Europe, Regional Connected and Local multifunctional. The three visions are each ‘multifunctional’ in that they wish to ensure as many as possible land functions (the capacity of the land to deliver all goods and services), but they basically differ in the scale at which this multifunctionality happens, i.e. local, regional or EU. These three visions were presented and discussed in two extra workshops with a selected subgroup of the 69 stakeholders, resulting in the three visions described in the next section. In order to introduce the three visions simultaneously and to facilitate the understanding of their differences, we present their key priorities for the four main land uses in Table 1. In sections 3, 4 and 5 the basic principles of the three Visions are illustrated and described. Further narratives are provided in a separate document.

Table 1 Characterisation of the three consolidated visions

Main aspiration

Best Land in Europe

Maximise the value of existing land by using the best locations in the EU

Regional Connected

Keep a regional coherence by supplying all land goods and services at regional level based on a very good green and blue connectivity

Local Multifunctional

Local self-sufficiency by supplying the   functions in one spot instead of different locations, depending on human desires and needs

Urban areas Peri-urban areas disappear, making way for other land functions around the cities, such as urban agriculture, recreation, nature. Cities are compact, with vertical growth, and very well connected with surrounding towns or villages and nature areas in the region. New villages emerge in former forests and on abandoned rural land.
Agriculture The intensity of agricultural production, including biofuels, varies depending on the agro-climatic conditions. E.g., in W and C Europe, production is intensive, while Alpine and southern regions see a decline in agriculture or extensification. The overall intensity of agriculture decreases with a focus on sustainable production, including a large increase in High Nature Value farming as part of the green network. Food is produced locally and new practices allow food to be grown everywhere (in cities, forest and nature areas). Consequently, intensity increases in some areas but may decrease in traditional agricultural regions.
Forestry Industrial highly productive forest dominates in N and C Europe, whilst regions that are biophysically less suitable or face climate change pressures, such as the Mediterranean, are more extensively managed. Forest area increases through the conversion of marginal agricultural land to productive forests supplying the local region. This includes green corridors and forests planted to mitigate carbon emissions. Forest area increases throughthe conversion of marginal land and an increase in agroforestry. Multifunctional mixed wood production is everywhere to cover local demand for all the services delivered by forests.
Nature Conservation Some nature areas with emblematic endangered species become strict conservation areas: isolated and with no human interference. Other areas are managed for recreation. Nature is encouraged and managed everywhere (in cities, agricultural areas, production forests) with an emphasis on green/blue infra­structure connecting different areas. Protected areas are open to sustainable food production and forestry where it helps to meet local demand. Management is focused on increasing the number of goods and services delivered.
Green connections Green connectivity is increased by restoring nature areas with high biodiversity value; there is a special emphasis on wetland rehabilitation. There are big investments in green and blue corridors. Nature is pervasive and ubiquitous (even in dense urban areas such as park systems, green rings, green facades and roofs or converteddisused transport sites).
Viability in rural areas Rural areas suffering from severe socio-economicdecline do not get further policy support and are abandoned and used for nature. Rural areas are well connected with big cities, keeping the regional coherence. Rural viability increases as a result of the strong diversification of activities, creating new opportunities for urbanites who want to start part-time farming. New ways of living appear, such as communal farms.

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