New Tool to Explore the Future

New England Landscape Futures (NELF) Explorer is Live! A new interactive mapping tool, the New England Landscape Futures (NELF) Explorer, can help people understand how the decisions made today could affect land-use opportunities in the future.

The NELF Explorer — developed at Harvard Forest, a lead partner in the Wildlands and Woodlands initiative, with support from Wildlands and Woodlands lead partner Highstead and the National Science Foundation — can simulate how the region would look in 2060 if land use continues “business as usual,” in terms of development, agricultural use, and land conservation. Tool users can also compare that simulation, called Recent Trends in the NELF Explorer, to four alternative scenarios that articulate vastly different landscapes over space and time at multiple scales. Whether exploring these scenarios at the state, county, municipality or watershed-level, users can easily access automatically generated data to compare how the different approaches to land use might affect conservation priority lands, such as wetlands and wildlife habitat, and developed lands.

Created with the input of more than 100 New Englanders who shared their visions for the future of the region, the four narratives that helped inform the four alternative scenarios are described in detail in a companion publication, Voices from the Land: Listening to New Englanders’ Views of the Future.

This tool can be used by land-users and landowners, alike, including conservationists, planners, developers, government leaders, and interested citizens. Stay tuned for events and supporting materials aimed at helping specific user groups apply the NELF Explorer to their work!

Dive into the NELF Explorer, or ease in with our explanatory story map. Download the data you see in the Explorer for use in GIS analyses.

To sign up for email updates about NELF Explorer events and trainings, request a workshop, or ask questions, contact

This announcement was adapted with permission from an S3RCN blog post.