Addressing trade-offs between in different landscape functions in regional landscape planning – results from a case study in the Kromme Rijn region, the Netherlands

Authors and Affiliations: 

Emma H. van der Zanden, Environmental Geography group, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Willem Verhagen, Environmental Geography group, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Peter H. Verburg, Environmental Geography group, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Corresponding author: 
Emma H. van der Zanden

Many agricultural landscapes in Europe deal with competing demands for land, which come at a cost of trade-offs between multiple objectives, such as food production, ecosystem services and biodiversity (Schröter et al., 2005). Understanding and balancing these trade-offs has a high priority on the policy agenda to promote sustainability and avoid undesirable societal outcomes. To account for these competing claims on land, careful planning is needed (Tscharntke et al., 2005; Wilson, 2007). This is in line with so-called landscape approaches, that focus on the development of tools and underlying concepts to achieve different functions within the landscape, often based on a people-centered approach at landscape scales (Sayer et al., 2013)

To assist land managers and decision makers in land planning and management strategies, various tools are available, ranging from exploratory and assessment tools (e.g. integrated assessment of scenarios) to planning support systems (e.g. multi-criteria based analysis; Malczewski, 2006). A specific set of tools is focused on the assessment of optimal land use patterns with respect to multifunctional use. These methods have the potential to assist in finding possible, spatially explicit, management options at a local or regional scale, for instance through linking different models with optimization algorithms (Seppelt et al., 2013). While this type of optimization models can be useful to acquire a better system understanding, improved multifunctional land use can only be achieved when this information is taken up in planning and management. However, bridging the science-practice gap can be challenging (Opdam et al., 2013) and there are only limited studies that focus on the implementation of landscape-scale assessments of different landscape functions in regional planning and management (e.g. Fürst et al., 2014) or that address the desired environmental information to support regional and landscape planning (e.g. Albert et al., 2014).

We present the results of a research project that aims to address the trade-offs between agricultural production, biodiversity and ecosystem services at a landscape-scale for a case study in the central part of the Netherlands (Kromme Rijn region). We have combined information gathered from policy analysis, stakeholder interaction (including participatory scenario development) and an optimization modelling set-up to assess these trade-offs, with a particular focus on the role of management of green infrastructure. Using the model outcomes, we assessed the opportunities and challenges to use optimization approaches in regional planning with local and regional stakeholders. Furthermore, we evaluated the type of information and methods that are used and seen as valuable at different levels in the policy cycle by stakeholders.


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