Environmental Management

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 282–299 | Cite as

Sustainability Assessment of Future Scenarios: Methodology and Application to Mountain Areas of Europe

  • William R. SheateEmail author
  • Maria Rosário do Partidário
  • Helen Byron
  • Olivia Bina
  • Suzan Dagg


BioScene (scenarios for reconciling biodiversity conservation with declining agriculture use in mountain areas in Europe) was a three-year project (2002–2005) funded by the European Union’s Fifth Framework Programme, and aimed to investigate the implications of agricultural restructuring and decline for biodiversity conservation in the mountain areas of Europe.

The research took a case study approach to the analysis of the biodiversity processes and outcomes of different scenarios of agri-environmental change in six countries (France, Greece, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) covering the major biogeographical regions of Europe. The project was coordinated by Imperial College London, and each study area had a multidisciplinary team including ecologists and social and economic experts, which sought a comprehensive understanding of the drivers for change and their implications for sustainability.

A key component was the sustainability assessment (SA) of the alternative scenarios. This article discusses the development and application of the SA methodology developed for BioScene. While the methodology was objectives-led, it was also strongly grounded in baseline ecological and socio-economic data. This article also describes the engagement of stakeholder panels in each study area and the use of causal chain analysis for understanding the likely implications for land use and biodiversity of strategic drivers of change under alternative scenarios for agriculture and rural policy and for biodiversity management. Finally, this article draws conclusions for the application of SA more widely, its use with scenarios, and the benefits of stakeholder engagement in the SA process.


Sustainability assessment Agriculture Biodiversity Mountains Scenarios Interdisciplinary Transdisciplinary Causal chains BioScene 



The BioScene research project was funded under the EU Fifth Framework Programme: Energy, Environment, and Sustainable Development, Project number: EVK2-2001-00354 (2002–2005). The authors acknowledge with thanks the contribution by the BioScene partners in helping to deliver the SA process.

Previous versions of this paper were presented at the 11th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference, Helsinki, Finland June 6–8, 2005, Transdisciplinary Case Study Research Symposium, and at International Experience and Perspectives in SEA: A Global Conference on Strategic Environmental Assessment, September 26–30, 2005, Prague, Czech Republic, International Association for Impact Assessment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Sheate
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Rosário do Partidário
    • 2
  • Helen Byron
    • 3
    • 4
  • Olivia Bina
    • 2
  • Suzan Dagg
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental PolicyImperial College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Departamento de Engenharia Civil e ArquitecturaInstituto Superior TécnicoLISBOAPortugal
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental PolicyImperial College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom
  4. 4.International Site Casework OfficerRoyal Society for the Protection of BirdsSandyUnited Kingdom

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