Several web GIS and DSS have been developed in the last decades to provide a support to environmental policy making, agriculture and land use management. However, current approaches are often too simple, and available DSS are scale-specific and monodisciplinary – thus hardly adaptable to different contexts and territorial scales. In addition, experiences show that, in most cases, potential users (e.g. farmers, policy makers and other stakeholders) ended up not adopting these tools to support their activities – and this can partly be explained by the fact that these potential users have not effectively been involved in all project phases, so that they could not feel confident with the DSS tools at the end of the project.
LANDSUPPORT aims at making the difference in current practices, by developing an integrated modelling approach supplying multiple applications and benefits to support sustainable management of land resources and sustainable agriculture and forestry practices. More in detail, the project is developing an operational web-based geospatial DSS with actions at a detailed local scale, but integrated over large areas, able to provide users with factual land management tools. In addition, LANDSUPPORT DSS will be developed in the context of a living lab process, where potential future users are involved from the very start of the project in the co-development, testing and validation of DSS tools – and some potential future users are even part of the LANDSUPPORT project team.
GLOBAL CHALLENGES TACKLED IN the project
Global agriculture: In the long term, the LANDSUPPORT DSS – thanks to its replicable design – has a large potential to demonstrate the “way ahead” for global agriculture. FAO and Global Soil Partnership (FAO) network chose to believe in LANDSUPPORT mission.
Global society: The project will show that it is possible to reconcile agriculture and forestry with environmental sustainability, thus supporting the simultaneous implementation of several EU land use and environmental policies. This overall objective will not be achieved by a top-down approach, but rather by empowering final end-users – from policy makers to farmers – so that they can freely access the knowledge offered by the S-DSS tools, including for example landscape characteristics and evolution, as well the impact of planning and management choices (by performing “what-if” scenarios). On the one hand, this will empower the democratic process, as the S-DSS will disseminate knowledge on the landscape, thus allowing users to take informed decision. On the other hand, the S-DSS will promote integrated territorial development beyond the traditional binomial agriculture/ forestry, by including additional economic sectors (e.g. eco-tourism) and environmental protection into the spatial planning equation.
Science and Public Authorities: LANDSUPPORT’s vision is oriented towards a change of paradigm for both soil and landscape scientists and public institutions. In fact, LANDSUPPORT shows that it is possible to overcome both current disciplinary and policy fragmentation over landscape issues by offering – through a smart Web-based system – a truly integrated geospatial knowledge archive which can be used directly and freely by any end users and institutions. We believe that this will enable to overcome the divide which, for too many years, has separated scientists working on the landscape from end users and institutions.
Within such a context, there is a need for strong inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches, applicable at multiple territorial scales and adaptable to multiple users. LANDSUPPORT DSS tools can support such approaches by offering multifunctional tools, based on an integrated modeling chain focusing on the analysis of different possible scenarios. Following the recommendations of the SCAR (2012), the multi-actor process of collective learning and co-innovation (living lab process) developed by LANDSUPPORT will: (i) be oriented towards agricultural and environmental challenges; (ii) be trans-disciplinary, (iii) be “reflexive” and socially-distributed, promoting dialogue among actors and use of stakeholder knowledge; (iv) promote open access and open innovation throughout the LANDSUPPORT living lab process; (v) promote outstanding development of new set of skills and competencies by using Geospatial-DSS resources for many different needs of participating actors.