Projects have used modelling methods to develop visual scenarios showing how different factors or influences can contribute to change.
This enables stakeholders and researchers from different disciplines to study the consequences or future options of particular scenarios, proposed changes or interventions.
Such techniques particularly help to make scenarios more accessible for stakeholders to understand and evaluate and gives them a degree of realism that could not otherwise be achieved.
Modelling with visualised scenarios and cognitive maps
To manage the countryside sustainably in future, one needs to understand how it is likely to change and why. Some of the biggest changes are likely to happen in upland areas, and may compromise the many important benefits they provide to society, such as clean water, carbon storage and the protection of internationally important species of plants and animals.
This project combined knowledge from local stakeholders, policymakers and scientists to identify the current needs and aspirations of those who live, work and play in three upland areas: Peak District National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and several catchments in Galloway.
By combining interviews, surveys and computer modelling, scenarios were developed that can be used as a starting point to discuss the opportunities and threats that climate change may bring and find viable options for future upland land management and sustainable rural livelihoods.
The team's approach to interdisciplinary working was diverse. Co-researchers trained colleagues in their disciplinary methods. Joint researcher-stakeholder site visits enabled the exchange and integration of knowledge. Stakeholders scrutinised information and policy briefs developed by research from published literature. Conceptual models of system structure and function developed from researchers' expertise, local knowledge and research literature formed the basis for the development of computational models used to explore scenarios.
An integrated computational model was developed from different disciplinary models: an economic agent-based model of land manager's behaviour; a hydrological soil erosion model of the effects of land management behaviour on soil properties and erosion; a habitat succession model of the effects of land management on plant species composition and succession; and a land use choice model of land managers' activities on individual parcels of land.
This integrated model was then linked to a carbon model estimating carbon fluxes and was run across the three project areas. For each area a range of scenarios were considered, including finding optimal carbon management. The optimal carbon management scenario was used to examine the viability of carbon offsetting using peat restoration within the English Peak District and used to project scenarios forward to 2030 given climate change.
Model outputs were integrated with qualitative outputs to develop scenarios for upland futures. These scenarios were visualised and developed into short films to elicit stakeholder feedback on adaption options for changes of the uplands.
The decision to use video as a medium to integrate local and scientific knowledge, was in itself based on stakeholder feedback. Documentary and animated participatory video was created to communicate project findings and adaption options online and via social media. At the same time, an interactive map-based website now allows people to share videos, photos and thoughts about what the uplands mean to them. A song and music video are currently being created to communicate the message "More than just a bog: carbon trap, sponge, history classroom".
Sustainable Uplands: learning to manage future
Klaus Hubacek, University of Leeds and Mark Reed, University of Aberdeen