Centre for Sustainable Area Management (CeSAM)
New paper published

Identifying optimal land use strategies for rural communities

A new approach developed by the group of CESAM member Peter Manning uses a mixture of natural and social science methods to identify the land-use strategies that work best for the multiple stakeholder groups that use them.

Cranes in an agricultural landscape
Peter Manning

Main content

The paper 'Landscape management strategies for multifunctionality and social equity' was published in Nature Sustainability and  simulates land use changes like afforestation and agricultural intensification and assesses their impact on the supply of ecosystem benefits to society. This information is then combined with social survey data to give measures of multifunctionality: ecosystem service supply relative to human demand, and the equity of this measure across the stakeholder groups that use the land.

In Germany, where the work was performed, the approach shows that the current landscape composition is close to optimal, and that most major land-use changes proposed for Europe, for example, large-scale tree planting or agricultural intensification, could lead to social conflicts. However, it is also found moderate gains in multifunctionality and equity can be achieved by expanding and diversifying forests and de-intensifying grasslands.

The approach is of broad applicability, and can be used to address the impacts of climate and biodiversity change, and other land use challenges, throughout the world.