Bridging scenario planning and backcasting: A Q-analysis of divergent stakeholder priorities for future landscapes

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Many landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa have undergone rapid changes, often with negative social and ecological impacts. Avoiding (or reversing) such negative impacts requires proactive landscape planning. Scenario planning, a participatory approach that generates narratives of plausible landscape change trajectories in the future, has been widely used to support landscape planning and decisions. However, not least because of challenges arising from group dynamics, few examples exist where backcasting—the collective envisioning of a desirable future landscape and the identification of pathways to reach that future—has been applied in landscape planning. In this study, building on past scenario planning work in southwestern Ethiopia, we begin to fill this empirical and methodological gap. Specifically, we used the Q-methodology to elucidate stakeholders' divergent landscape aspirations in a case study in southwestern Ethiopia. Our results show that many stakeholders share a similar vision of building a future landscape that supports smallholder-based development. However, details in the envisaged pathways differ between stakeholders. Three distinct pathways were prioritized by different stakeholders: (1) Agroecological production, (2) Coffee investment and (3) Intensive food crop production. Accounting for these divergent aspirations is important when taking further steps in landscape planning. We show how using the Q-methodology as a subjective assessment of stakeholders' landscape priorities can facilitate the integration of backcasting within the normative process of landscape planning. Our approach thus helps navigate conflicting stakeholders' preferences and based on that, carefully plan collective action towards a shared landscape vision. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

ZeitschriftPeople and Nature
Seiten (von - bis)572-590
Anzahl der Seiten19
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 04.2023

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
A special thank you goes to all local people and stakeholder organizations in the Jimma zone who gave us their precious time, shared their opinions and provided important data for this study. We extend our appreciation to two enumerators, Dadhi Feyisa and Berhanu Negash. We thank all local stakeholders. We also thank the Government of Ethiopia and the Oromia National Regional State for granting us the relevant permits. We are also grateful for the constructive input from the three anonymous reviewers. This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant No. ETH-Coffee 031B0786) to JF, DA and JS. TSJ's Postdoc work was covered by the same research project grant. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. People and Nature published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.