Landscape management strategies for multifunctionality and social equity

Neyret, M. et al. | Nature Sustainability | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Increasing pressure on land resources necessitates landscape management strategies that simultaneously deliver multiple benefits to numerous stakeholder groups with competing interests. Accordingly, we developed an approach that combines ecological data on all types of ecosystem services with information describing the ecosystem service priorities of multiple stakeholder groups. We identified landscape scenarios that maximize the overall ecosystem service supply relative to demand (multifunctionality) for the whole stakeholder community, while maintaining equitable distribution of ecosystem benefits across groups. For rural Germany, we show that the current landscape composition is close to optimal, and that most scenarios that maximize one or a few services increase inequities. This indicates that most major land-use changes proposed for Europe (for example, large-scale tree planting or agricultural intensification) could lead to social conflicts and reduced multifunctionality. However, moderate gains in multifunctionality (4%) and equity (1%) can be achieved by expanding and diversifying forests and de-intensifying grasslands. More broadly, our approach provides a tool for quantifying the social impact of land-use changes and could be applied widely to identify sustainable land-use transformations.