Research by the Environmental Geography group contributes to discussions between stakeholders on land use management and policy aimed at improving land use policy design and appraisal at global to local scales.

Land use policy plays a key role in the characteristics and functioning of landscapes. Policy affects landscapes’ capacity to produce feed, food and shelter, and safeguard species, habitats, and the ecosystem services they provide. Understanding how policy measures invoke landscape change and what consequences these changes yield is crucial for effective policy design. We assist policy making through the development and assessment of policy options, quantifying and mapping implications for land use, ecosystem services and biodiversity. We also assess the effectiveness of existing policy targets as they interact with other land demands, leading for example to trade-offs and off-site effects through tele coupling and displacement or leakage. Our work has supported the work of the European Commission’s DG Environment and DG Climate, is related to Global conservation targets (Aichi targets) aiming at 17% of the terrestrial surface of the Earth being protected, and supports local scale planning.

Effective policy support not only involves assessments of proposed measures, but also aims at discussing future challenges and co-design of novel interventions or policy strategies. Our research aims at providing tools and processes of discussion support amongst actors and between science and policy rather than providing full-blown decision support systems.

As different scales require different approaches, we employ a range of methods including land-change modeling, ecosystem services and biodiversity assessments, spatial prioritization methods, agent-based modelling and deliberative methods to develop policy options or assess land use change together with local stakeholders.

Selected key publications: