Conclusions: Managing change in the uplands – challenges in shaping the future
Change in the uplands is occurring at an accelerating pace. Over the coming decades, contemporary drivers of widespread change such as land use, diffuse pollution and demographic challenges are likely to be exacerbated by climate change and associated socio-economic pressures. The underlying health of upland ecosystems and their component habitats and biodiversity, and their ability to supply vital ecosystem services such as food, water, climate regulation, opportunities for recreation and businesses for thriving communities, will therefore be subject to increasing pressures and choices. The value of some of these services, e.g. carbon storage or flood control, may become more important to society and political agendas. The chapters of this book draw out and discuss a wide range of environmental, social, economic and political drivers of change in upland environments and demonstrate their inter-relatedness. Both natural and anthropogenic drivers act over a range of spatial and temporal scales, and owing to the complex interrelationships there are no easy solutions for managing change. We can, however, draw some overarching conclusions from the contributions to this volume that could help us develop more effective approaches to making decisions for maintaining both healthy upland environments and communities that can continue to benefit from their services.