New Report “Voices from the Land: Listening to New Englanders’ Views of the Future”

A new report released in September 2018 by the Harvard Forest and the Science Policy Exchange provides a stakeholder-driven approach for addressing the important question, what is the future of the New England landscape?

Voices from the Land: Listening to New Englanders’ Views of the Future describes the perspectives of New Englanders on future land development, conservation, agriculture, and timber harvest. The voices articulate a powerful attachment to the New England landscape as well as urgent concerns about whether current conservation and land use planning activates are enough to keep pace with increasing development pressure, forest fragmentation, extreme weather, and changing economic pressures on land-owners.

The key findings in the report include:

  • Many participants expressed similar views about what a positive future for New England could look like.
  • Compounding pressures that are changing the land at accelerating rates and in less predictable ways pose new challenges for land owners and land managers.
  • New Englanders view environmental, social, and economic issues as interconnected forces that together shape the future of the land, as exhibited by the two drivers of change that define the future scenarios.
  • Many believe that new land-use planning approaches, land conservation partnerships and resources are needed to better adapt to change.

The voices of New Englanders describing the future of the land in interviews and workshops formed the basis of four future New England land use scenarios that parameterize possible future land use outcomes for New England in 2060. The report outlines how content from interviews and workshops was used to develop the scenarios, presents the final scenarios, and describes conservation and research applications for the scenarios.

This report is the first of several forthcoming products and associated events to keep an eye out for over the coming months:

  1. New England online scenario explorer tool – This tool, currently in development, will put the scenarios online and make the scenarios, data, and mapping products available and accessible. Expected tool launch is January 2019.
  2. Scenarios, Services, and Society RCN Final Workshop – November 14 and 15, 2018, Amherst. MA. Co-meeting with the 2018 RCP Network Gathering. Featuring capstone workshops on the New England land use scenarios and applications of the scenarios for conservation and research. Also attend to demo the scenarios-based interactive online mapping tool prototype and help shape its final phase of development.
  3. Online scenario explorer tool and planning workshops – These interactive workshops will be open to participants in the scenario-generation process and others interested in using the scenarios for conservation applications and research. At least 4 workshops will be offered, beginning in late January and February 2019. Details to follow.

View or download the report.

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