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European nature in the plural

Report | 23-03-2017

The occurrence of many species in the EU is expected to further decline, making it difficult to reach the 2050 policy vision. This study elaborates four ‘perspectives’ on the future of nature in the EU, in search for new approaches. The study concludes with topics for debate on a future policy strategy that increases engagement of citizens and businesses.

Different perspectives, different approaches

For this study, the researchers have developed scenarios that represent four main perspectives on nature. In each perspective, people are connected with nature in different ways:

  • Strengthening Cultural identity – through love for the local landscape;
  • Allowing Nature to Find its Way – for its intrinsic value
  • Going with the Economic Flow – for its contribution to individual lifestyles
  • Woring with Nature – as an essential basis for a sustainable society.

Based on these values, each perspective offers new approaches to the challenges facing nature in Europe today: finding a shared agenda for nature areas, making nature more relevant for the sustainability of economic sectors, and strengthening the connection between people and nature.

A many-faceted vision

The EU should choose one perspective over the other. Rather, the researchers recommend that a future nature vision should be a many-faceted one, which not only contains protection of species, ecosystems and the services they provide, but also other objectives, ranging from ensuring areas of undisturbed nature and space for dynamic processes to profit making and private initiatives. In particular lacking in policy visions seem relational values, the fact that nature provides identity to people; it would be promising to address nature in such a way that it will foster a sense of place.

Author(s)Henk van Zeijts, Anne Gerdien Prins, Ed Dammers and Marijke Vonk (all PBL), Irene Bouwma, Hans Farjon and Rogier Pouwels (all Wageningen UR)
Report no.1615
Publication date23-03-2017
Pages118
LanguageEnglish