Deploying ecosystem services to
develop sustainable energy
landscapes: a case study from
Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam University of the Arts,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Department of Civil Environmental and Mechanical Engineering,
University of Trento, Trento, Italy
Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands, and
Landscape Architecture Group, Wageningen University,
Wageningen, The Netherlands and
Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam University of the Arts,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Purpose –The transition to a low carbon future is an emerging challenge and requires the planning and
designing of sustainable energy landscapes –landscapes that provide renewable energy while safeguarding
the supply of other ecosystem services. The aim of this paper is to present the application of an ecosystem
services trade-off assessment in the development of sustainable energy landscapes for long-term strategic
planning in a case study in Schouwen-Duivenland, The Netherlands.
Design/methodology/approach –The application consists in three activities: in (1) stakeholder mapping
hot spots of ecosystem services and renewable energy technologies in a workshop, (2) landscape design
principles being discussed by a focus group, (3) experts gathering the information and proceeding with an
assessment of the potential synergies and trade-offs.
Findings –The case study indicates that (1) deploying the ecosystem services framework in
planning and design can enhance the development of sustainable energy landscapes, (2) diversified
and accurate spatial reference systems advance the trade-off analysis of both regulating and
cultural ecosystem services and (3) the involvement of local stakeholders can advance the trade-off
analysis and, ultimately, facilitates the transition to a low-carbon future with sustainable energy
Originality/value –The originality of this research lies in the creation of an approach for the deployment of
ecosystemservices in the planningand design of energytransition. This is useful to advanceenergy transition by
The authors would like to thank Annemieke Smith (Wageningen University and Research), for the
intellectual and practical work done in the organization of the participatory process in 2014 and the
colleagues who contributed to other parts of the research, namely Marjo van Lierop and Dirk Oudes. We
further really thank Denise Fralley (American University of Rome) for the English proof of the text.
Funding: The study was supported by the Province of Zeeland (The Netherlands), the Ministry of
Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (The Netherlands) and the Erasmus Placement Program -
University of Trento (Italy).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 6 February 2020
Revised 9 May 2020
2 July 2020
Accepted 4 July 2020
Smart and Sustainable Built
© Emerald Publishing Limited
enhancing research methods, by providing methods useful for planners and designers and by supporting
communities pursuing energy self-sufficiency in a sustainable manner.
Keywords Renewable energy, Community, Participation, Landscape design, Spatial planning, Energy
Paper type Research paper
The transition towards renewable energy sources is unavoidable in order to reduce global
greenhouse gas emissions with 40–70% by 2050 (United Nations, 2015). The energy
transition, as can be witnessed in many countries, changes existing landscapes. Renewable
energy technologies require space, considering that most renewable energy sources have a
lower energy density than fossil ones (Stremke and Koh, 2011). Local communities frequently
oppose their installation because of the associated landscape change and the trade-offs
among supported ecosystem services in time and space (Van der Horst and Vermeylen, 2011).
Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, including
renewable energy (Haines-Young and Potschin, 2013). The energy transition must therefore
be supported by spatial disciplines in order to safeguard the supply of ecosystem services
(Oudes and Stremke, 2018;Picchi et al., 2019).
This paper will employ the definition of landscape as in the European Landscape
Convention (Council of Europe, 2000, art. 1, a). In line with it we define landscape
infrastructure as the natural or constructed physical or beta-structure of the landscape,
delivering material or immaterial benefits and ecosystem services and the recycling of energy
and materials. This definition is based on B
elanger’s study of landscape infrastructure
elanger, 2013). By “physical structure”we mean the complex of human-made or natural
networks and linear elements of the landscape, including for example roads and railways,
waterways, ecological corridors, tree rows and cropping patterns. By “beta-structure”we
mean the intangible structure, e.g. sight lines, or the sociocultural and economic networks
that the physical landscape structure can support, for example a cultural association
organizing historical landscape trekking, or landscape heritage trust networks with all the
related economic activities. The landscape infrastructure includes the components of the
green infrastructure and grey infrastructure (Andreucci, 2018).
The implementation of renewable energy technologies advances quickly. Landscapes in
which infrastructure and land use are modified by energy technologies are defined as energy
landscapes (Pasqualetti and Stremke, 2018). Sustainable energy landscapes are defined as “a
physical environment that can evolve on the basis of locally available renewable energy
sources without compromising landscape quality, biodiversity, food production and other
life-supporting ecosystem services”(Stremke and van den Dobbelsteen, 2012, p. 4).
Several authors stressed the importance of considering trade-offs between renewable
energy technologies and the provision of ecosystem services (Burgess et al., 2012;Howard
et al., 2013;Kienast et al., 2017). A recent literature review on approaches and methods relating
renewable energy technologies and ecosystem services shows that on a total of 64 analyzed
papers only 11 explicitly apply the ecosystem services framework (Picchi et al., 2019). Among
these, three studies apply a so-called integrated planning approach. These studies develop
future renewable energy plans which are based on the local energy demand and land use and
land cover classes (LULC) are adopted as the spatial reference system. They lack reference to
the landscape infrastructure, resulting in a less precise spatial description of regulating and
cultural ecosystem services.
Stremke et al. (2012 a, b) conceived a methodological framework for the development of
sustainable energy landscapes at the regional scale: the so-called Five-step Approach.The
Five-step Approach combines a strategic spatial planning approach with landscape design
by translating strategies and actions into spatial interventions and concrete design
principles, seeking for the development of sustainable energy landscapes. The objective of
this research is to bring a trade-off assessment of ecosystem services into the development
of sustainable energy landscapes by enhancing an integrated planning approach.The
application will be conducted in a regional case study making use of the Five-step
2. Methods and materials
2.1 Conceptual framework and methods
In order to apply an ecosystem services trade-off assessment to the Five-step Approach,
we will first introduce some key concepts. The adopted spatial reference systems and
mapping tools are relevant when assessing trade-offs by means of an ecosystem services
framework (Maes et al., 2012;Howard et al., 2013;Turkelboom et al., 2018). The spatially
explicit definition of ecosystem services depends on the considered service type (Crossman
et al., 2013). Some provisioning services such as food production can be efficiently
described by spatial information on the land use and land cover classes. Some regulating
services, on the contrary, would need additional information on the landscape
infrastructure such as the design and the structure of ecological corridors (Zardo et al.,
2017). Cultural ecosystem services may require spatial information gathered through
participatory processes and social mapping activities (Fagerholm et al., 2012), together
with the calculation of metrics on preferred land cover patches as in the landscape ecology
domain (Frank et al., 2012;Pinto-Correia et al., 2013). In landscape architecture, a multi-
layer landscape analysis as adopted in the Five-step Approach can provide information to
describe the landscape infrastructure and its components (McHarg and Mumford, 1969;
Steiner, 2012;Hou et al., 2013).
Ecosystem services hot spots refer to the areas where, according to stakeholders, the level
of ecosystem services supply is considered higher than in other areas (Raymond et al., 2009).
These can be linked to land use classes or components of the landscape infrastructure that
include organisms and abiotic elements (soils, water bodies, atmosphere), which contribute to
the supply (Syrbe and Walz, 2012).
Landscape democracy has been defined as a democratic approach to the definition of
landscape values, or ecosystem services, involving local communities (Arler and Mellqvist,
2015). Workshops for participatory mapping are a landscape democracy tool relevant for
society to express the spatial distribution of ecosystem services hot spots (Brown and Reed,
2012;Plieninger et al., 2013;Spyra et al., 2019). Another tool described in landscape
democracy literature is the focus group: ordinary people gathered to discuss and explore a
specific set of issues (Arler and Mellqvist (2015). Those tools are valuable for local
inhabitants to identify and express preferences for cultural ecosystem services (Blicharska
et al., 2017).
The conceptual framework presented in this paper diversifies the spatial reference system
for the assessment of regulating and cultural ecosystem services. It makes use of
participatory mapping activities and landscape visualization tools for cultural ecosystem
services. It includes landscape design principles, for designing landscape infrastructures,
because different design options can reduce trade-offs and enhance synergies among
ecosystem services (Nassauer and Opdam, 2008). Figure one shows how the trade-off
assessment of ecosystem services is integrated in the existing Five-step Approach in three
tasks. In a workshop, stakeholders map hot spots of ecosystem services and the most suitable
areas where they would place renewable energy technologies (task 1). The landscape design
principles are then discussed in a focus group (task 2). Experts gather the information and
assess the potential spatial synergies and trade-offs (task 3) (see Figure 1).
In Task 1 a new participatory process was added in step 1: stakeholders map the ecosystem
services hotspots by encircling them in colored areas (Raymond et al., 2009;Bryan et al., 2010;
Brown and Reed, 2012;Fagerholm et al., 2012), and place the most suitable areas for
renewable energy technologies. Stickers representing renewable energy technologies are
used to site them on a map fulfilling the targeted amount of energy. In task 2, a focus group
session is used to explore preferences for different landscape design principles and related
values in terms of ecosystem services supply.
In task 3, the maps of ecosystem services hot spots are drawn in GIS and overlaid. Where
the overlay counts the majority of the preferences (50%þ1), the resulting area is considered a
hot spot for the supply of the service. The stickers positioned by stakeholders are
georeferenced to point locations in GIS files. Dots are then grouped as centroids of polygons
reflecting the summed preferences (Bryan et al., 2010;Fagerholm et al., 2012). The centroid is
then used as center to calculate a circular buffer corresponding to the approximated area
needed for the spatial installation of renewable energy technologies. By overlaying the
buffers and the hot spots of ecosystem services the areas of potential trade-offs or synergies
between renewable energy technologies and ecosystem services are identified. The areas
enclose specific land use and land cover classes and landscape infrastructure elements, which
can be used in a matrix approach for trade-off assessment (Burkhard et al., 2012). The matrix
is built with the spatial reference systems on the y axis (land use and land cover classes and
landscape infrastructure elements), and the ecosystem services on the x axis. Each cell of the
matrix expresses the spatial trade-off or synergy between a particular ecosystem service and
a renewable energy technology.
The introduction of an
trade-off assessment to
the five-step approach
in the DEESD project
As in Jackson et al. (2013) trade-offs and synergies are expressed on a scale of five values.
The degree of trade-off and synergy is based on: (1) expert judgments or degrees derived from
literature, e.g. the scoring for “typical European landscapes”by Burkhard et al. (2012); (2)
observations and model estimates; (3) for provisioning ecosystem services, the supply
scarcity based on land use and land cover data, for example, the surface of pastures (Farber
et al., 2002); (4) the relevance that stakeholders attributed to land use and land cover and
landscape infrastructure elements during the workshop and in the focus group. Tasks 2 and 3
produce information to support the assessment of the different visions and to describe the
final spatial interventions.
2.2 Case study
The island of Schouwen-Duiveland is located in the Rhine delta, in the Province of Zeeland,
The Netherlands. The island comprises different landscape types and Natura 2000 sites, and
is one of the favorite Dutch destinations for recreation and seaside tourism.
The “Sustainable Energy and Ecosystem Services in Schouwen-Duiveland”research
project (DEESD) was launched in Spring 2013 as a joint project between knowledge institutes,
the regional authority and the private sector in the province of Zeeland in The Netherlands.
DEESD was a partnership of civil society organizations, knowledge institutions, governments
and entrepreneurs to initiate a sustainable regional energy supply on Schouwen-Duiveland:
the group strives to maintain ecosystem services that are important for the economy and
society on the island, such as a beautiful landscape for recreation and tourism, with sufficient
fresh water for recreation, agriculture, horticulture and residents. The project team worked
with stakeholders for two years on sustainable regional energy planning for Schouwen-
Duiveland, following the Five-Step Approach. Steps 1 and 2 were documented in a report and
maps (Verzandvoort et al., 2013;Stremke et al., 2013). In step 3, the “Regional Communities”
scenario (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006) was assessed in order
to compose four energy visions for the future with different combinations of renewable energy
technologies (Verzandvoort et al., 2014). It assumes a weaker national government to provide
scope for decentralized developments in the economy and society.
In step 3 of the Five-step Approach a set of energy visions are produced for the reference
regional scenario: in this case the step was simplified in a table featuring four combinations of
renewable energy technologies based on four strategic visions for the region, the Zeeland
2040 study. The application presented in this paper was conducted on one of the four energy
visions outlined in the strategic vision for the Province of Zeeland, entitled Zeeland 2040 ,
that was initiated in 2012 (Provincial Council of Zeeland, 2014), and ratified for continuation
by the Provincial Council at the end of 2018. These four visions were elaborated on the
“Regional Community”scenario. The long-term visions Zeeland 2040 present four
perspectives on the landscape, society and economy of the region in 2040, drafted by
representatives of societal actors in the region (inhabitants, regional policy makers,
entrepreneurs, companies, civil society organizations).
The vision Entrepreneurial Zeeland was selected for the application, because it considers
large-scale interventions and a weak influence of policy, and envisages the largest surface of
solar panels on fields and energy crops. This choice was based on the expectation that
governmental regulation will decrease in the coming decades to give space to decentralized
developments in economy and society. These local developments have been initiated by
citizen groups and entrepreneurs since 1987 in the development of local energy cooperatives,
and the movement has accelerated since 2013.
A second motivation is that some island communities currently retreat from the world
economy with the aim to become self-supporting in food and energy provision (Hendriks et al.,
2014;De Waal and Stremke, 2014). This development is also seen in the community of
Schouwen-Duiveland, as formulated in the community’s strategic vision of 2011 The Future’s
Tide, as well as in the energy agenda for the island for the period 2018–2023 (Van Berkel
et al., 2017).
2.3 Data sources
The information collected about the case study region was based, among other things, on the
output of previous research projects, and the data already obtained during Step 1. Land use and
land cover classes were extrapolated from the Land Use Database of the Netherlands (LGN
database) and Land Use Statistics (CBS, 2010). The landscape infrastructure elements were
extrapolated through multi-layer landscape analysis (Step 1). In addition, we received input
from the previous steps: the analysis of the ecosystem services supply in step 1 whichprovides
a qualitative assessment of ecosystem services, in spatial reference to land use and land cover
classes; the combinations of renewable energy technologies with the corresponding amount of
energy production per technology and the total energy produced per combination in step 3,
based on the four Zeeland 2040 strategic visions. The four strategic visions present renewable
energy technologies combinations that have been selected to best fit the four perspectives on
the landscape, society and economy of the region in 2040. This is based on the feasibility of
applying these technologies on the basis of previous knowledge gained in the project and the
perception of stakeholders towards these technologies. An estimate of the amount of energy
that can be generated with the different technologies was then made for each strategic vision.
The amount of renewable energy to be generated is based on the estimated energy demand for
2040 as calculated in Step 3, as 3,525 TJ (Verzandvoort et al.,2014)(Table 1).
The participatory session (tasks 1 and 2) took place in Zierikzee, the main town on the island,
in the context of an open day on Strategy Zeeland 2040. The participatory session was
organized as part of Step 4 “Composing an integrated vision for renewable energy and
- Quantitative data on the number of landscape users for
recreational activities and different sites on the island,
and the number of users for different facilities (e.g.
footpaths, public transport, restaurants) per landscape
Schouwen 2007: a research report on the
recreational use of the landscape in Schouwen-
Duiveland * Visschedijk et al. (2007)
- Qualitative assessment of the supply of ecosystem
services based on “landscape use types”
Ecosystem services analysis for the province of
Zeeland * Verzandvoort et al. (2011)
- Multi-layer landscape analysis maps: geomorphology,
settlements, historical landscape, roads, green-blue
network, soils, energy transport, energy consumption,
DEESD research project- step 1 Stremke et al.
- Quantitative assessment of ecosystem service per land
use and land cover classes
DEESD research project - step 1 Verzandvoort et al.
- Four perspectives on the landscape, society and
economy of the region in 2040, envisaged by
representatives of societal actors in the region
(inhabitants, regional policy makers, entrepreneurs,
companies, civil society organizations)
Strategic vision for the Province of Zeeland:
Zeeland 2040 (www.zeeland2040.nl)*
- Four combinations of renewable energy technologies DEESD research project –step 4–5Hendriks et al.
Note(s): *Already existing
ecosystem services 2040”and Step 5 “Energy and Ecosystem Service-aware measures, here
and now”(Hendriks et al., 2014). The aim of the participatory process was to co-design an
integrated vision for renewable energy and ecosystem services supply. Participants in task 1
and task 2 included representatives of the following groups: landowners, provincial officials,
landscape heritage and nature organizations, renewable energy technology company and
regional division of Rijkswaterstaat, the national service responsible for the design,
construction, management and maintenance of the main infrastructure facilities in The
Netherlands. During the open day, 26 stakeholders took part to the session, 14 in the morning
workshop and 12 in the afternoon focus group. Stakeholders joined spontaneously and they
organized themselves in pair for a total of seven groups in the morning workshop, while in the
afternoon a plenary-session focus group was conducted. After the workshop experts
analyzed the results of tasks 1 and 2.
3.1 Task 1: participatory mapping
During the workshop stakeholders were asked to map the hotspots for the three most
relevant ecosystem services in the region land-based food production, water regulation and
recreation (Verzandvoort et al., 2013).The hotspots for recreation were represented by the
dune landscape and the Grevelingenmeer, the interior sea North of the island, the historical
center of Zierikzee and the Delingdijk. The hotspots for water regulation were located in the
dunes which regulate floods and store sweet water, in the wetlands of Schelphoek and in
the dams on the southern side of the island which enclose the Oosterschelde inner sea. The
hotspots for land-based food production were located in a large area in the old polder
landscape between the villages of Dreischor and Nieuwerkerk. Subsequently, stakeholders
positioned the stickers of different renewable energy technologies on the map, aiming at
fulfilling the total targeted energy provision by 2040 (Table 2).
Wind parks were located off-shore and on the Pijlerdam, where some turbines already
exist. Three solar panel buffer zones were located close to residential areas, on grassland close
to Renesse, Zierikzee and Bruinisse, and one close to the Delingsdijk in open agricultural land.
The geothermal energy plant and the biomass furnaces were located in the suburban area of
Zierikzee. Stakeholders positioned the tidal energy plant on the Brouwersdam, in line with
current planning. The map of renewable energy technologies buffers showed that half of the
agricultural land of the island would be occupied by energy crops.
Dedicated energy crops
Land-based food production Recreation
LULC Grassland aaa
Arable land aa a
Recreational sites and
Dykes and blooming dykes →aa
Field edges →a
Wet ecological corridor →aa
Rural paths →a
Note(s): *The spatial references are the land use and land cover classes (LULC) and the elements of the
landscape infrastructure. The downward arrows indicate trade-off (one arrow) or strong trade-off (two arrows),
the upward arrows indicate a synergy (one arrow) or a strong synergy (two arrows), while the horizontal arrow
Matrix for the
assessment of trade-off
and synergy between
the renewable energy
energy crops and the
3.2 Task 2: elaborating design principles
The focus group met in a plenary session. The facilitator was a landscape architect
specializing in the representation of landscapes during participatory processes. Each
participant presented his/her opinion on how he/she would figure out the future energy
landscape in a round table discussion, while the facilitator supported by the authors could
summarize the different narratives in two main landscape design principles: the corridor
design principle and the cluster design principle (Figure 2). The former considered the option to
site renewable energy technologies along the historical alignments of the landscape: PV
panels on the flanks of the dykes, wind turbines along the roads and the dams, energy crops
as marginal cultures between the dykes and the fields. The latter considered the option that
renewable energy technologies could be clustered in three large areas in the proximity of the
main settlements: Zierikzee, Scharendijke and Burgh-Haamstede. A second round table
discussed how the two different design principles could cause more or less trade-off with the
ecosystem services. Even though the corridor design principle could result in fewer trade-offs
for provisioning of food in cultivated areas, it was firmly opposed by the stakeholders
affirming that changing the historical landscape, by modifying the dykes appearance, would
not be accepted by the island community. The cluster design principle, on the contrary, would
damage food production, converting a great extension of arable land and part of the
grassland into energy crops and solar fields, but it would preserve the appearance of the
dykes. Further some farmers are interested in converting their arable land for food
production in energy crops, since more profitable. Stakeholders selected the cluster design
principle as the preferred option.
3.3 Task 3: trade-off assessment
The trade-off assessment we report as an example regards dedicated energy crops covering a
total of 7,900 ha, in relation to land-based food production and recreation ecosystem services.
Natura 2000 sites, built-up areas, graveyards, wooded graveyards, were not considered in the
spatial trade-off assessment since protected areas, as well as land use and land cover classes
that can supply second-generation biomass themselves as forest, fruit groves, tree nursery or
built-up areas since not foreseen in strategic vision II.
In Table 3 it is possible to note that, for example a strong trade-off (double downward
arrows) is observed between dedicated energy crop, with land-based food production, if
this would be cultivated in place of arable land. The reason for this result is that in
Schouwen-Duiveland soils are good for cropping, and this gives a better revenue to
farmers than the use of the land as grassland. With regard to recreation ecosystem service,
the trade-off is higher for grasslands, because meadow parcels contribute to increasing the
local landscape diversity, valuable for recreation. Strong trade-off are also observed for
other land use and land cover classes valuable for recreation and elements of the landscape
infrastructure as wet ecological corridors and channels, dykes, field edges and footpaths
on rural land contributing to the landscape identity and attractiveness for tourists.
Considering that strategic vision II would push farmers to exploit the maximum from
arable land (7,900 ha required) and intensify the productive process, a consequence could
be the reduction of the ecological corridors width (to expand the arable surface) or the
hiding of the dykes view due to the cultivation eight (e.g., tall species such as Zea mays or
Miscanthus giganteus), or the closing of some tourist paths. By this way recreation would
be damaged too.
As an example of the output of the spatial trade-off assessment Figure 3 shows the results
from the trade-off analysis between dedicated energy crops and the ecosystem services land-
based food production and recreation.
The output of the
principles with the
focus group: The
cluster and the corridor
original hand sketches)
The research reported in this paper bridged some knowledge gaps in the literature, obtaining
new knowledge in terms of conceptual insights and, yet, encountered a number of limitations
during the case study application. The introduction of ecosystem services trade-off
assessment in the development of sustainable energy landscapes has been applied through
“learning by doing”; merging different theories, approaches and applications, and facing new
Renewable energy technologies (RET)
RET number in
production in TJ
3 MW wind turbines in wind park by 34 turbines 6 837 2
Tidal energy plant 1 315 1
Dedicated energy crop 1975 ha 13 105 4
PV park on land by 10 Ha size 3 96 10
Geothermal energy plant 10 79 1
Heat power plants (CHP) 13 58 1
Summary of the
combination based on
strategic vision II, the
relative quantity and
An example of the
trade-off map that
relates energy crops
with the hotspots of the
recreation. The circular
areas show the overlay
of the renewable
buffer with the
hotspots. Darker color
higher trade-off, lighter
One finding is that the introduction of a trade-off assessment allowed experts to include
ecosystem services values in the creation of long-term energy visions. This allowed to avoid
generalizations based on literature. The installation of wind turbines in the rural landscape,
for example, was rejected by participants preferring offshore wind turbines while the
literature features multiple concerns of residents with respect to off-shore wind farms (Gee
and Burkhard, 2010).
The application of ecosystem services trade-off assessment to the development of
sustainable energy landscapes revealed relevant findings. The first is that the landscape
infrastructure concept as spatial reference system has advanced the ecosystem services
assessment. The use of landscape infrastructure together with land cover and land use
enables a more diverse and accurate spatial definition of regulating and cultural ecosystem
services, consequently a more precise identification of ecosystem services hot spots.
Considering the fact that the spatial characteristics of landscape infrastructure are important
for the majority of modalities in which the regulating and cultural ecosystem services are
provided, the use of this spatial reference system enhances the analysis of trade-offs.
Examples of landscape infrastructure in Schouwen-Duiveland include canals, dykes, cycling
and hiking paths.
Furthermore, the assessment is more accurate: for example the trade-off between land-
based food production and PV on fields can depend on the land use change (how much
surface is required) but also on the landscape infrastructure (how this is distributed). In the
case study, installing PV panels along the flanks of dykes would not compromise the land use
(land-based food production) because it would avoid converting arable land into PV
installations. Yet this option would cause strong trade-off with recreational use of the
landscape by modifying the landscape infrastructure (dykes and how these are perceived)
that is presently highly appreciated by tourists.
A second finding is that connecting a multi-layer landscape analysis resulted in a more
accurate spatial description. This is typical in landscape architecture projects but, until
recently, lacked a direct connection with the ecosystem services framework.
The third most relevant finding is that participatory means such as the mapping
workshop and the focus groups for the design principles allowed a community based and
validated estimation of ecosystems services values, especially with regard to the cultural
ones. Planning methods often lack participatory processes (e.g. Howard et al., 2013) and in
some cases cultural ecosystem services were evaluated according to national databases, but
this is not accurate. All ecosystems services, and in particular the cultural ones, should be
assessed making use of the knowledge of local landscape users (Geneletti et al., 2018).
While we provided relevant new insights at conceptual level bridging knowledge gaps
with regards to integrated planning approaches, the case study research encountered
some challenges in the management of the participatory process that could be addressed in
the future. Participation was used to explore the spatial dimension in tasks 1 and 2.
Considerations on the visual aspects of the landscape such as the sight lines and relative
perceptions and valuable views could have been addressed in the mapping of the cultural
ecosystem services. Those appeared to be the most relevant and controversial for the
stakeholders. Beside the sketches other forms of landscape representations, such as
videos, may be of value to enhance the communication of how the landscape change
The participatory session was organized during a day open to the general public, without
possibilities to select the number of participants, their background and prior knowledge. The
scarce representativeness of stakeholders background was a source of uncertainty. For
cultural ecosystem services, uncertainty was partially compensated through comparison: the
fact that workshop and focus group results found confirmation in previous research data on
landscape preferences for recreation (Visschedijk et al., 2007).
The main objective of this research was to apply an ecosystem services trade-off assessment
to the development of sustainable energy landscapes.In the case study presented in this
paper, an ecosystem services spatial trade-off assessment was applied to the Five-step
Approach –a design approach for the planning of sustainable energy landscapes including
some participatory steps but not an ecosystems services trade-off assessment.
With regards to research the main finding is that using a participatory session in
combination with an ecosystem services trade-off assessment enhanced the development of
sustainable energy landscapes. The workshop for participatory mapping of the ecosystem
services enabled a better comprehension of the current supply of the ecosystem services
within the study area. The focus group on landscape design principles enabled a better
comprehension of how the ecosystem services supply would vary according to different
preferences by the stakeholders. The adopted spatial reference system is relevant for the
trade-off assessment. Beside land use, the concept and analysis of landscape infrastructure
supported a more accurate spatial description of hot spots for the supply of ecosystem
services; in particular for regulating services such as water regulation and cultural services
such as recreation. A multi-layer landscape analysis –diversified and accurate maps on
landscape systems such as the green and blue network and the landscape historical network –
provided information to detect the relevant landscape infrastructure elements to be included
in the spatial trade-off assessment. Future research must focus on visualization tools for
design principle, for example in focus groups, when stakeholders need to picture and
understand the future landscapes and the ecosystem services level of provision. Techniques
such as virtual reality, can potentially facilitate this.
With regards to practice, energy transition clearly is one of the grand sustainability
challengesof the XXI century. The involvement of environmental designersin the planning and
designing of renewable energy systems is increasing. For example environmental designers are
involved in the negotiations of the national climate agreement in TheNetherlands, to represent
landscape and landscape users in the process. In this case for example the ecosystem services
framework is a relevant tool to express landscape values for negotiations. The research
reported in this paper illustrates participatory ecosystem services trade-off assessment that
environmental designers and other practitioners can adopt to support communities envisioning
their future energy landscape (also see Stremke and Picchi, 2017).
The research reported in this paper, revealed a number of implications for society.The
participatory methods –participatory mapping of ecosystem and co-creation of landscape
design principles –are capable to support bottom-up renewable energy initiatives. The spatial
description and valuation of ecosystem services such as recreation and landscape identity
(arguably the most debated ecosystem services with regards to renewable energy technologies
development) and food production and water regulation are effective in revealing the impact of
the initiative to local and regional administrations responsible for building permits. Further, the
presented participatory methods foster the implementation of the European Landscape
Convention by enabling communities to express values and aspirations for their future
landscape in an energy transition perspective and this is beneficial for local stakeholders.
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