There are a number of tools that can be used to identify, analyse and communicate insights about the future, ranging from highly quantitative, predictive approaches based on scientific evidence (e.g. forecasting), to more qualitative approaches based on a combination of local/lay and scientific knowledge (e.g. visioning).
Futures tools have been applied to many subjects and situations in the last 50 years; however, they are still relatively new to environmental issues, with the exception of scenario analysis. The challenges to ecosystems services are characterised by the need for more long-term approaches which are not well suited to our short-term governance systems. Whilst tools such as Scenarios, Visioning, Foresight and Backcasting show considerable promise, they require greater evaluation as to their effectiveness in policy and decision-making for ecosystem service planning over the long-term.
Specific guidance has been developed to incorporate the Ecosystem Approach within a:
- Futures Tools toolkit (including Visioning, Foresight, Scenarios, Backcasting with Roadmapping, and Wind-tunneling)