Using the Nature Futures Framework as a lens for developing plural land use scenarios for Europe for 2050

Yue Dou*, Cecilia Zagaria, Louise O'Connor, Wilfried Thuiller, Peter H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

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Ambitious international targets are being developed to protect and restore biodiversity under the Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the European Union’s Green Deal. Yet, the land system consequences of meeting such targets are unclear, as multiple pathways may be able to deliver on the set targets. This paper introduces a novel scenario approach assessing the plural implementations of these targets. The Nature Futures Framework (NFF) developed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services aims to illustrate the different, positive ways in which society can value nature. It therefore offers a lens through which the spatial implementation of sustainability targets may be envisioned. We used CLUMondo, a spatially explicit model, to simulate plural land system scenarios for Europe for 2050. The model builds on current land system representations of Europe and explores how and where sustainability targets can be implemented under projected population trends and commodity demands. We created three different scenarios in which the sustainability targets are met, each representing an alternative, normative view on nature as represented by the NFF, favoring land systems providing strong climate regulation (Nature for Society), species conservation (Nature for Nature), or agricultural heritage features (Nature as Culture). Our results show that, irrespective of the NFF view, meeting sustainability targets will require European land systems to drastically change, as natural grasslands and forests are forecast to expand while productive areas are projected to undergo a dual intensification and diversification trajectory. Despite each NFF perspective showcasing a similar direction of change, 20% of Europe's land area will differ based on the adopted NFF perspective, with hotspots of disagreement identified in eastern and western Europe. These simulations go beyond existing scenario approaches by not only depicting broad societal developments for Europe, but also by quantifying the land system synergies and trade-offs associated with alternative, archetypal, interpretations and values of how nature may be managed for sustainability. This quantification exemplifies a means towards constructive dialogue, on the one hand by acknowledging areas of contention, and bringing such issues to the fore, and on the other by highlighting points of convergence in a vision for a sustainable Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102766
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal environmental change
Early online date15 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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