Landscapes of the Future Government Note

There is to be a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology note on 'Landscapes of the Future'...

Increasing pressure on the landscape as a result of increasing population, economic growth and climate change will require multifunctional and adaptive landscapes in order for society and biodiversity to thrive. This POSTnote will examine the possibilities for the spatial configuration of landscapes to continue provision for human wellbeing whilst also ensuring space for nature.

Much of the UK landscape has been shaped by agricultural and industrial development. Human activities are continuing to act as drivers of environmental change in landscapes both directly, for example, land use change, and indirectly, for example, climate change. Meeting the requirements of a growing population from the UK landscape will increase competition for land in the future, between increasing demands for food production, housing and infrastructure, energy, flood protection and climate regulation.

The natural environment provides benefits to society and future economic prosperity, known as ecosystem services, for example through provision of food, fuel and water, nutrient cycling, oxygen production and flood protection. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment, due for completion in March 2011, is the first analysis of this kind and will include future scenarios and outline policy options for their longterm sustainable delivery. According to ‘Making Space for Nature’ England’s wildlife sites contribute to ecosystem services but are highly fragmented, mostly too small, are insufficiently protected and under-managed. The geographical ranges of wildlife species may shift due to climate change; and wildlife conservation measures will need to support these changes within and across landscapes to be effective.

Policy decisions on landscapes of the future will need to take into account the long term impacts of land use changes and human activities. Land use or land system science can inform which configurations or spatial arrangements of landscapes are sufficient to maintain the outputs of goods and services that people value.

The aims of this POSTnote/POST report are to provide MPs
and Peers with an overview setting out
- A description and assessment of the challenges to landscapes in the future focusing on the variety of needs for land space.
- An exploration of novel methods or technologies for reducing land use (e.g. in agriculture) or exploiting different spaces.
- How different views of stakeholders supporting different outcomes might be reconciled whilst balancing local and wider public interest.
- An overview of policy proposals outlined in key recent or forthcoming documents e.g. UK National Ecosystem Assessment, Making Space for Nature, Foresight Land Use Futures and the Natural Environment White Paper.

POST draws on the expertise of a wide range of external parties. Input comes from industry, NGOs, academics, regulators and government. A draft of the report will be circulated to all contributors
for comment prior to the publication of the final document.

It is planned that the briefing will be produced for publication in April 2011.

All of POST’s publications are publicly available. The briefing note will be published in paper form and distributed to Parliamentarians and other interested parties. It will also be available on POST’s website:

Eleanor Kean
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA
Tel: 020 7219 8378
Fax: 020 7219 2849
Email:keane [at] parliament [dot] uk