Futurescapes - Futurescapes : promoting the development of green infrastructure in 34 priority areas throughout the UK

LIFE10 INF/UK/000189

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Contact details:

Contact person: Nick FOLKARD
Email: nick.folkard@rspb.org.uk

Project description:


Despite the existence of the Natura 2000 network, there is an ongoing loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services throughout Europe. An important reason for this loss is the continued degradation of the ‘wider countryside’ outside protected areas. There is therefore an increasing need to ensure that landscapes surrounding protected areas are as ‘green’ and biodiversity-friendly as possible. The ‘LIFE building up Europe’s green infrastructure’ report looked at what could be achieved across Europe. The project looked specifically at what could be achieved in the United Kingdom as a ‘test bed’ for landscape-scale approaches to conservation. The UK is densely populated and highly developed, so natural habitats have suffered as a consequence, but at the same time it has relatively effective laws and regulations relating to planning and biodiversity and enjoys a degree of public support for conservation efforts. Landscape-scale conservation effectively extends the existing network of protected areas and aims to enhance its overall connectivity. It acknowledges that the spatial scale of current conservation activities is insufficient to halt the loss of biodiversity, and landscape-scale approaches will become increasingly necessary if climate change proceeds as expected.


The main objective of the Futurescapes project was to encourage the development and implementation of landscape-scale conservation initiatives, involving many partners, in 38 priority areas across the UK. These Futurescape areas cover a total area of over 2.2 million ha and include populations of around 3.8 million people. The 38 areas were chosen to give good geographical coverage and to reflect both their need and potential. Additional objectives were to carry out high-level advocacy work to promote the landscape-scale approach and to disseminate information to relevant stakeholders. A key message was that landscape-scale conservation can bring major benefits to local communities as well as to wildlife.


The Futurescapes project made an important contribution to the development of landscape-scale conservation in the UK. This was realised through the promotion of the principles of good landscape-scale conservation and green infrastructure planning in support of the Natura 2000 network. The project exceeded its expected outcomes, by contributing to the establishment of 144 partnerships, developing 198 projects, engaging 310 000 members of the public (60% adults, 40% children), and conducting practical conservation work on 108 500 ha of land. The project’s conservation actions encompassed 134 Natura 2000 sites (an estimated 2 059 538 ha), many project interventions helping to buffer Natura 2000 sites and improve the connectivity between them.

The project catalysed the development and implementation of landscape-scale conservation initiatives in 38 Futurescapes areas across the UK spanning a range of habitat types. The basis for achieving the project's achievements was working in partnership with others and much of the work was supported and complemented by other landscape initiatives such as The Wildlife Trust's Living Landscapes, the government's Nature Improvement Areas in England and Landscape Partnership Schemes that aim to link land and people funded through the UK Heritage Lottery Fund.

The continuity of work in the Futurescapes areas is assured by the continued involvement of many of the partnerships, and the establishment of a permanent Landscape-Scale Conservation (LSC) Unit at the RSPB’s headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire (UK), supported by the appointment of four regional Futurescapes officers who will continue to develop projects and partnerships.

The RSPB Board has selected 11 Futurescapes as high-priority sites for funding, while work will continue on all the others as part of RSPB's long-term ambition to support as many as 83 Futurescapes across the UK. High-level advocacy will continue, with a major project success being the early establishment of a NGO landowner partnership as a platform for increased landscape-scale conservation. The Futurescapes project, through its advocacy work, has played a key role in working with UK government agencies, which now support the landscape-scale conservation approach.

The project also achieved an excellent financial leverage on the initial investment. With a total budget of €3.8 million, the project helped to raise €40.3 million for conservation delivery and €112.6 million for all other aspects of landscape-scale conservation.

The outcome of the project’s final conference was a 'recipe for success', which is disseminated through the layman's report, guides the continuing programme and, in the after-LIFE stage, will be presented to audiences around the EU. The project was guided by and is an advocate of the 'Lawton principles' for building ecological networks and Sir John Lawton gave the keynote address at the final conference. The Futurescapes project also provided a test bed for approaches to mapping, community engagement and partnership working. The final report provided a summary of its approaches and selected best practice methodologies, such as Biodiversity Opportunity Mapping.

The Futurescapes approach seeks to utilise and encourage conservation entrepreneurialism. Socio-economic information was used in the mapping work and in planning the community engagement programmes. In each area, census data was used to understand the background of local communities and those who use the countryside. As a spin-off from the main project a number of ecosystem services studies were undertaken at a landscape level, including looking at the health benefits of nature conservation in Northern Ireland, and the market for community-based payments for ecosystem services in the North Lakes and Sherwood Futurescapes.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Biodiversity issues - Ecological coherence
Climate change Adaptation - Natural resources and ecosystems


biodiversity‚  landscape protection‚  rural area‚  nature conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...
  • COM(2013) 249 final “Communication from the Commission on Green Infrastructure (GI) - Enhancing E ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The beneficiary is The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The RSPB is the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe. It has over 1 million members and manages more than 200 nature reserves throughout the United Kingdom.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE10 INF/UK/000189
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 31-MAR -2015
Total budget 3,855,426.00 €
EU contribution 1,927,713.00 €
Project location East Midlands(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Brochure "How to implement landscape-scale conservation: A recipe for success: Summary report" (5.77 MB)
Brochure "Futurescapes in a nutshell"
Newsletter Newsletter - Issue 04
Newsletter Newsletter - Issue 01, June 2012
Newsletter Newsletter - Issue 03
Newsletter Newsletter - Issue 02
Newsletter Newsletter - Issue 05
Newsletter Newsletter - Issue 06
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Guidelines-Manual Wales Futurescapes Summary Guide (in Welsh)
Publication: Guidelines-Manual UK Futurescapes Summary Guide
Publication: Guidelines-Manual Northern Ireland Futurescapes Summary Guide
Publication: Guidelines-Manual Scotland Futurescapes Summary Guide
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Proceedings "Landscape-scale Conservation in Europe - Part Of ...
Video link "Inspiration from Southern Europe: joining nature and culture. Teresa Pinto Correia, Persident IALE-Europe [at The future of landscape-scale conservation in Europe Conference, Bristol, 4th March 201] "(21')
Video link "Making even more space for nature?: Sir John Lawton [at The future of landscape-scale conservation in Europe Conference, Bristol, 4th March 201] "(21')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version