Project Ideas

VB SEES the Future: An innovative approach towards Social, Ecological and Economical Sustainability of natural landscapes


The multifunctional role of natural landscape in achieving social, economic, ecological and cultural goals is widely recognised as important to their development and sustainability in the 21st Century. In addition to deliving multiple benefits, the management of natural landscapes should also provide an examplary model of fully integrated land management policy and practice. The complexity of managing multifunctional natural landscapes is often further increased by diminishing financial support from government. This means that land managers are faced with the additional challenge of having to increase support in both the public and private sector, in order to enable sustainable management, and this in a time of being under increasing scrutiny and public accountability for the spending of public funds.

To overcome these challenges, an innovative, future-proof approach to the management of natural landscapes is needed. Only recently, partnership-based approaches such as the 'landscape approach', 'ecosystem approach', 'model forest approach' and the 'reconnection model', were designed to combine the social, cultural and ecological needs of key stakeholders. The partnerships are generally voluntary, broad-based initiatives that link conservation, agriculture, forestry, recreation, research, education and other values and interest within a given landscape. The partnership may define what sustainability means in their own context, develop a common goal, governance structure and strategic plan, and then work collaboratively to achieve the goals set out in that plan. Athough these approaches seem promising, they have not often been put into practice and as such, there is little emperical evidence supporting the effectiveness of such partner-based approaches.

Recently, payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes (in Dutch referred to as: 'verdienmodellen') have been introduced as a way to provide financial incentives to protect ecosystem services and therewith, to provide economic sustainability to the management of natural landscapes. In essence, PES schemes seek directly to reward land managers for the value of nature's services, so that these can be maintained and enhanced. Although the use of these schemes has become more widespread in the USA and some developing countries, this is not yet the case in the EU.

3 Longman road


Louise de Raad

Tel: +441463273439

Central Aim

This project aims to address key issues related to integrated, sustainable land management by bringing together key stakeholders, including SME’s, conservation organisations, education, research and local communities, to manage natural landscapes. The project will use an innovative approach, whereby novel partnership-based approaches and PES schemes are fully integrated. It will draw on existing frameworks and best practices of partnership-based approaches and PES schemes, to integrate these and put them into practice through a number of pilot projects across the North Sea Region. The project specifically aims to establish a community of practice whose members work toward the common goal of the sustainable management of natural landscapes and in doing so, ensure the transfer of best practices by offering the tools, skills and know-how to do so.

Envisaged Output

Regional Pilots

A key part of this project is learning from existing frameworks and case studies  in combination with learning from practice through regional pilots. This will result in handbooks, guidelines, toolkits and training materials, to ensure best practices are transferred between regional pilots and disseminated beyond this. Currently, there are a number of potential regional pilots in different types of North Sea Landscapes, which are looking to integrate partnership-based approaches and PES schemes. For more information about the individual resional pilots, the different PES schemes that will be explored, please contact us.

The project will be submitted under Priority 3.b (Sustainable North Sea Region: preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency). The specific objective is to “Develop new methods for the long-term sustainable management of North Sea ecosystems” whereby the main indicator is the number of sites managed using new solutions supporting long-term sustainability. The main indicator will equal the number of regional pilots.

Specific output

  • At least five areas under new, innovative and sustainable management.
  • Sharing good practices of innovative, sustainable land management through a community of practice
  • Innovative solutions for financially sustainable land management: new PES schemes that ensure economically, as well as ecologically and socially sustainable land management
  • Improving local community
  • Creating awareness and engagment with the public and local communities
  • Extending and increasing engagmenet with sME's with a veiw to informing and influencing approaches to sustainable land management
  • Enhanced understanding, knowledge and evidence about the multifunctional roles of land management as a basis for modelling skills and training requirements for land managers of the 21st Century: development of two new courses on integrated land management as Continuous Professional Development
  • Improved evidence on knowlegde and skills requiements as a basis for 21st Centruy 'green education' curriculum development: development of two new modules for the Educaton sector

Partners Found Already
  • Inverness College, University of the Highlands and Islands (Scotland)
  • Forestry Commission Scotland (Scotland) 
  • HAS University of Applied Sciences (the Netherlands)
  • Staatsbosbeheer (Dutch State Forestry Agency) (the Netherlands)
  • The City of Gothenburgh (Sweden)

Partners Sought

We are looking for partners who:

  • Who are land owners or land managers
  • Who can offer a ‘water-based’ pilot project in the North Sea Region
  • Who are from Germany or Denmark
  • Who have expertise / interest in a bottom-up stakeholder engagement
  • Who have expertise / interest in payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes (“verdienmodellen”)

The Scottish University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI) is currently acting as lead partner, but we are open to an experienced INTERREG partner to become the lead partner.

Estimated Budget

Thematic Keywords
Sustainable Management, Local Economy, Sustainability, Conservation, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), Landscape and Ecosystem Approach, Model Forests

Lead Beneficiary

24 March 2015

Event Calendar
Events Archive

09 July 2015
06 July 2015
30 June 2015
18 May 2015
21 April 2015