Launch of ‘Landscapes of the Future’

‘Landscapes of the Future’ the new Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology POSTnote written by the current BES POST fellow Eleanor Kean was launched today. ‘Landscapes of the Future’ focuses on the benefits that we derive from our landscapes, and the increasing pressures facing continued delivery of these benefits.

It has been widely established, following the release of the National Ecosystem Assessment, that we gain a variety of benefits and services from the environment including food, clean water, recreation and protection from natural disaster. However these benefits are threatened by the way in which we use land, often exploiting landscapes for a single purpose, without considering the wider detrimental effects.

Demographic change is increasing the pressure we place on land to provide the ecosystem services on which we rely. This coupled with environmental and climate change, societal attitudes and the policy environment will change the way in which we use land over the coming years. It is important to manage the challenges facing the natural environment through existing policies, and also through innovation and novel techniques.

Eleanor identifies opportunities for future landscape planning to adapt to these pressures, and provide multifunctional landscapes that ease competition between different land uses. Many opportunities have arisen as a result of proposed reforms of the planning system, abolition of regional spatial strategies, and introduction of a new National Planning Policy Framework. The establishment of Ecological Restoration Zones as recommended by the Lawton review ‘Making Space for Nature’ are also likely to play a key part in securing ecosystem services for future generations.

Localism may be expected to affect the way landscapes are managed, and the POSTnote emphasises the importance of allowing communities to access good information about the environment, facilitating local people to make good decisions. Green Infrastructure also has great potential to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits. An integrated approach to land use planning is another key message of the POSTnote which recommends that Government departments work together to achieve desirable environmental, social and economic outcomes.