Through the research of the ESRs and spinoff papers, projects, and lectures, as well as white papers and other results geared toward private sector- and policy-maker use, TerraNova aims to improve understanding of landscape histories and land use strategies in Europe at the end of the Pleistocene, throughout the Holocene, and, now, at the beginning of an “Anthropocene”, an era distinguished by overwhelming global evidence that earth system processes are now altered by humans. The goal is moreover to educate ESRs to become lifelong contributors in this domain of inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary research. While building on extant research and integrating existing data where appropriate, TerraNova envisions its research as a fresh way of obtaining results. Its approach is best encapsulated under the concept of ‘integrated landscape analysis’, or ILA.
Part of the approach will entail generating a new type of landscape-and-climate change model which includes the effects of past human actions to build better future projections. TerraNova’s ILA divides past human-landscape interactions into four energy regimes: 1) hunter-gatherers’ energy regime, 2) the timber, agriculture and animal power shift, 3) the contemporary industrial carbon-based, coal and oil regime, and 4) a projective future regime of combined low-carbon sources – the regime policymakers the world over as well as in Europe urgently require to safeguard the planet for future generations. Dividing the study of landscapes into four energy regimes and emphasizing the cross-cutting quality of ILA, TerraNova enables new tools for steering policymakers and landowners toward supporting a low-carbon future through a richer understanding of past landscape use patterns.