Change in Maine communities happens house-by-house and parcel-by-parcel—an incremental process that is difficult to see. We can live in the same town for years, with small changes happening around us, and yet not notice how they add up to big changes. Visualizing what the future may look like under different conditions enables us to see how these small changes can add up. These different conditions are referred to as scenarios.

For this project, we constructed five scenarios of land use change between 2006 and 2036 (see figure below). One scenario shows us what things might look like if past trends are simply continued. This is our baseline scenario. Around this baseline, we have constructed four additional scenarios that vary according to population growth (high vs. low) and how much emphasis is placed on environmental and economic choices:

A1: lower population growth/more economic emphasis
A2: lower population growth/more environmental emphasis
B1: higher population growth/more economic emphasis
B2: higher population growth/more environmental emphasis
Diagram showing scenario axes.

Scenario matrix showing five scenarios of land use change in Maine.

While we recognize that it is possible to have win-win situations for both the environment and the economy, our goal here was to create distinct scenarios to highlight different futures that might occur. Our intention was to bracket the range of plausible futures for each region.

To create these scenarios, we made a computer model of land use change for the year 2036. Contact us for specifics on the model. We can change various settings in the model to visualize the outcomes of different market and policy conditions (e.g., more sprawl/more compact development, different conservation goals, changing demand for Maine foods, etc.).

You can view the results of these five scenarios for the Casco Bay and Lower Penobscot watersheds by launching the Mapper. If you want to compare all five at the same time, use the “Compare Tool” within the Mapper and select the “Current and Future Scenarios” option from the drop down menu.