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Exploring Futures of Ecosystem Services in Cultural Landscapes through Participatory Scenario Development in the Swabian Alb, Germany

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Plieninger, Tobias; Bieling, Claudia; Ohnesorge, Bettina; Schaich, Harald; Schleyer, Christian; Wolff, Franziska
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 18
Date: 2013
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9159
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: Europe
Subject(s): rural development
landscape change
participatory development
landscape change
quality of life
Abstract: "Cultural landscapes are appreciated for the plethora of ecosystem services that they provide to society. They are, however, subject to rapid and fundamental transformations across Europe, mainly as a result of intensification or abandonment of land uses. Our objective is to assess the possible future drivers of cultural landscape changes and their likely impacts on ecosystem services provision as perceived by local actors. We present stakeholder-based scenarios for the Swabian Alb, a biosphere reserve in southern Germany, projected to the yr 2040. On their basis, we explore the possibilities and limitations of local civil engagement for landscape conservation and development in the face of increasing global influences. The steps of the process are (a) identifying the key driving forces of landscape change, (b) developing contrasting narratives about alternative landscape futures, (c) refining the narratives, (d) discussing scenario impacts, and (e) exploring local management strategies. Four contrasting scenarios created by the stakeholders are presented. Global-level drivers are state support/regulations vs. free-market economy, and energy-intensive lifestyles vs. low-energy economy. Local-level forces are high vs. low consumer demand for localized food, and high vs. low appreciation of local cultural landscapes. Outcomes show that cultural landscape development may come to a crossroads over the next 30 yrs, with either combined land abandonment and landscape industrialization scenarios or multifunctional, locally distinct landscape futures being possible. The scenario narratives envision that the most powerful way to develop and protect distinct landscapes is to foster local people's links to cultural landscapes, to build social capital around them, and to direct consumption patterns toward localized food production. We find that participatory scenario processes have strengths in terms of the credibility, transferability, and confirmability of the insights gained, but are often weak in ensuring dependability."

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