Pan European Networks - Government - page 204

Pan European Networks: Government
is far beyond the intellectual capabilities of
individual humans. There is a strong need to
establish a stream of research to investigate
optimal or at least near-optimal land-use
patterns for specific geographical areas for
multiple, competing objectives.
Such an endeavour would increase our
understanding of the trade-offs between
alternative development objectives and would
make it possible to identify solutions that are
located on the efficiency frontier of competing
development objectives. Another challenge is
to redefine the role of experts and laypeople.
Experts were responsible for the design
and implementation of land-use engineering
solutions up to the 1970s when decision
making power started to shift towards
stakeholder-driven processes, which resulted
in better acceptance but also in the
documented overshooting of demand over
supply for land-based goods and services.
What we need is an arrangement in which
experts are offering solutions to land-use
problems, pushing the frontiers of efficiency –
and in which laypersons are deciding where on
the efficiency frontier a solution should be
chosen for implementation. Of course, such a
vision will create controversial reactions, but
Einstein’s famous quote that “we cannot solve
our problems with the same thinking we used
when we created them” could open up our
perspective for novel approaches.
and is a resource, the role of which has been underestimated in
achieving a path of development that fulfils human needs within the
limits of the Earth’s biophysical capacity. The available space per
capita has been becoming increasingly scarce, having at present the size
of about two and a half football fields per capita, which is only half what it
used to be 50 years ago due to population growth. At the same time, human
demand for land-use has been increasing, resulting in six competitive
streams: use for 1) food and fibre; 2) biomass for bioenergy; 3) urban and
industrial facilities; 4) carbon storage; 5) biodiversity; and 6) wilderness.
WWF’s Living Planet report illustrated that the land-based demand for goods
and services has been overshooting the supply capacity considerably, even
if one is questioning some of the underlying assumptions. This raises the
question of how to spatially organise land-use to satisfy the demands
without moving beyond the land’s capacity limits.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century public mechanisms for land-
use development have been in place, aiming at allocating land to specific
uses. In the last 30 years those mechanisms were adapted for improved
public involvement and collective decision making. Public involvement
and participation are resulting in solutions that best fulfil the interests of
the involved groups and parties, but rarely seek solutions that are optimal
in consideration of the feasibility limits of biocapacity. While WWF’s
overshooting effect was documented at the national level, similar effects
may be observed in regions and communities.
The challenge for future land-use development is to find public mechanisms
that are providing land-use patterns for a region that are allocating land to
a portfolio of land-based goods and services that satisfies needs while
respecting the limits of capacity.
The solution of a problem always starts with the identification of the
problem, which can be summarised in this case; what land-use allocation
pattern enables the increasing population to survive – without degrading
and overusing the biophysical capacity of the available land resources?
The current approach is mostly driven by the question; in what landscape
do we want to live? However, there is an unconscious acceptance that
the supply of land-based goods and services is outsourced to the
environmental ‘hinterland’ that is far enough from our own backyards. A
solution to a problem also requires that we know what types of spatial
land-use patterns perform best in terms of a requested portfolio of goods
and service provision for a specific geographical area.
Up to now, this type of target knowledge has been lacking, because the
identification of best possible solutions is a highly complex problem that
A dead-end path?
Humans are reliant on the proper use of land – a finite resource.
Hans Heinimann
argues for a better approach towards land management
Professor Hans Heinimann
ETH Zürich
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