The Northern Highlands Lake District of Wisconsin is in transition from a sparsely settled region to a more densely populated one. Expected changes offer benefits to northern Wisconsin residents but also threaten to degrade the ecological services they rely on. Because the future of this region is uncertain, it is difficult to make decisions that will avoid potential risks and take advantage of potential opportunities. The NHLD project adopts a scenario planning approach to cope with this problem of prediction. NHLD uses an ecological assessment framework developed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to determine key social and ecological driving forces in the Northern Highlands Lake District. From these, they describe three alternative scenarios to the year 2025 in which the projected use of ecological services is substantially different. The work reported in the paper demonstrates how scenarios can be developed for a region and provides a starting point for a participatory discussion of alternative futures for northern Wisconsin. Although the future is unknowable, they hope that the assessment process begun in this paper will help the people of the Northern Highlands Lake District choose the future path of their region.
Peterson, G.D., T.D. Beard, B.E. Beisner, E.M. Bennett, S.R.Carpenter, G.G. Cumming, C.L. Dent, T.D. Havlicek. 2002. Assessing future ecosystem services: A case study of the Northern Highland Lake District, Wisconsin. Conservation Ecology: 7(3): 1. available here
- Sustainable Futures of NHLD meeting, Kemp Biological Station, Minocqua, WI September 3-4, 2002
- Estimating Resilience, Resilience Alliance, Friedrick Center, Madison, WI September 7-13, 2002
- NHLD Scenarios Report
- Carpenter, S.R. 2008. Seeking adaptive change in Wisconsin's ecosystems. In Waller, D.M. and T.P. Rooney (eds.), The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois USA. pdf link.
- Peterson, G.D., T.D. Beard, B.E. Beisner, E.M. Bennett, S.R.Carpenter, G.G. Cumming, C.L. Dent, T.D. Havlicek. 2002. Assessing future ecosystem services: A case study of the Northern Highland Lake District, Wisconsin. Conservation Ecology: 7(3): 1. available here
More information on the Web
- Climate Change, Shifting Land Use, and Urbanization in a Midwestern Agricultural Landscape: Challenges for Water Quality and Quantity
NHLD in the News (2003)
- University of Wisconsin Press Release, Carlson, Emily. UW Researchers Envision the Future of Northern Wisconsin Lakes. June 9, 2003 PDF version
- Wisconsin State Journal, Carpenter, S., G. Peterson, L. Levitt. Planning the Future of the Northwoods, June 29, 2003 PDF version
- Wisconsin Public Radio, Halstad, G. Northwoods Faces 'Ecological Disaster', July 21, 2003 radio broadcast (open with RealPlayer)
- Limnology & Oceanography Bulletin, Carpenter, Steve. Scenarios for the Future of Northern Wisconsin Lakes, September 2003.
- The Capital Times, Zaleski, Rob. Cottages Fall Castles Rise, October 4, 2003. PDF version
- Wisconsin State Journal, Seely, Ron. Chippewa Care For Lakes Of The North Woods, October 7, 2003. PDF version