What is the Land-use Planner?
The Land-use Planner is an open-access tool that helps provide the information stakeholders need to understand and participate in land-use planning decisions. It was developed by the European Forest Institute to support land-use planning initiatives in partner countries.
The Land-use Planner makes it easy to analyse and compare land-use scenarios in rural areas. It provides better understanding of economic, social and environmental aspects, including employment, food security, carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation.
Be it at local, regional or national scale, the tool facilitates dialogue among stakeholders involved in land-use decisions. The Land-use Planner shows the implications of different land-use decisions in a visual and structured way.
Who can use the Land-use Planner?
The Land-use Planner is freely available. The tool is particularly suited for planners, policymakers, stakeholders, researchers and facilitators, helping to make informed decisions about land use, forests and commodities. With its user-friendly interface and available manual online, anyone with good knowledge of rural economics and familiar with common digital tools can quickly become acquainted with the tool and its features.
The Land-use Planner also lends itself well to case studies and projects in graduate courses in land-use planning, agronomy, rural economics and natural resource management.
While mastering the tool is within the reach of university-level graduates, the experience and skill of facilitators will play a key role in the ability to use the Land-use Planner to support constructive stakeholder dialogue in real planning processes.
What kind of land-use policy and planning questions can the Land-Use Planner serve to address?
- How can we better achieve and implement a low-carbon rural development strategy in a specific area?
- What would be the costs and benefits of a shift to deforestation-free agriculture? How would these costs and benefits be shared among stakeholder groups?
- Is it worth investing in commodity A or commodity B to secure jobs for local people? What would be the impact of alternative production models?
- Will we be able to respond to the local food demand while investing in forest restoration?
- How can we diversify the type of crops and cultivation systems found in a landscape? How can we reconcile different investment strategies from different supply chains that compete over a single territory?
- How can we find a consensual solution to a land conflict by taking into account the different points of view of various groups?
How does the Land-use Planner complement existing spatial tools on land-use planning and zoning?
The Land-use Planner provides economic, social and environmental analysis. It is complementary to spatial analysis tools, often used for land-use planning. The Land-use Planner is not a spatial tool.
In general, land-use simulation tools take into account economic (costs/benefits) and carbon aspects. The Land-use Planner also takes into account other dimensions of local sustainable development. This includes responding to questions such as: what are the impacts on employment? On biodiversity? Food security? And at the economic level, who gets the benefits and who bears the costs?
How does the Land-use Planner contribute to inclusive land-use planning?
The Land-use Planner brings together stakeholders involved in land-use planning processes by providing material for discussion, experience sharing and decision-making. The tool is able to inform, feed and support stakeholder dialogue. This is often a complex dialogue, involving multiple layers of governance and perspectives.
The Land-use Planner helps better organise land-use planning processes by facilitating consensus building around various land-use scenarios. It enables clear analysis and comparison of rural land-use scenarios according to their economic, social and environmental aspects.
Where can the Land-use Planner be used?
The Land-use Planner is designed to be used in rural areas. When data is available, it can be used everywhere. It can be applied at any territorial scale – from national to local level (for example, a municipality or a national park).
At the national level, it can support policy discussions on how to achieve agricultural production targets while preserving forests and other ecosystems.
At the project level, it can be used to inform an environmental and social impact assessment, for example.
More generally, using the Land-use Planner can provide important inputs and facilitate stakeholder participation in:
- A green growth development plan
- A municipal land-use plan
- A provincial masterplan
- A strategic environmental and social impact assessment
- An environmental impact assessment
- A rural investment plan
- A project to reduce emissions from deforestation, forest degradation (REDD+)
- The design of a deforestation-free territorial initiative and its investment plan
- A plan of productive reconversion
- A climate change adaptation plan
- A low-carbon development strategy
Which type of input data does the Land-use Planner need?
The main type of input data required for using the Land-use Planner is cost and benefit information associated with the main land uses that you wish to include in your planning process: different crops, forest management models, livestock production systems, etc. This includes data on areas covered, productivity, labour requirements, and prices of products.
The Land-use Planner will be most relevant when used with data collected on the ground or from existing bibliographies. You can also use the land-use data portal as a complement. You don’t need perfect data to get started and you can rely on local stakeholders and experts to challenge your initial data and adjust your Land-use Planner project along the process. Ultimately, the quality of results generated by the tool nonetheless depends on the quality of the input data.
How does the Land-use Planner work?
The Land-use Planner takes users through four steps described below. The results generated allow users to analyse, propose and reflect on different land-use scenarios.
- Your area: this first step is to define the general characteristics of your area or territory of interest: its size, its population, the type of natural environment, the simulation period desired.
- Land use: this second step is to describe the current land uses found in the area, based on available knowledge or land use maps. The land-use Planner uses six main land-use categories: forest, fallow, annual crop, perennial crop, livestock and other land uses.
- Scenarios: this third step is forward-looking, it projects the evolution of land uses into the future, based on different assumptions and interventions introduced in different scenarios to reflect the views of stakeholders.
- Results: this fourth step is to compare the different land-use scenarios on their economic, social and environmental impacts, illustrated in a simple visual way for a set of key indicators. This may lead to readjusting scenarios or land-use data, which is always possible.
The Land-use Planner’s calculations are based on simple, transparent formulas that add, multiply and combine the numerous data parameters entered in steps 1 to 3. These calculations are described in the “Methods” section. All the data of a Land-use Planner simulation is downloadable in a CSV file for checking or further analysis.