Week 2 – Understanding the Landscape Approach

13 Aug 2018

Understanding the Landscape Approach

Posted: 8/13/2018
Assignment due: 8/17/2018 
Next lesson post date: 8/20/2018
Author: Khalil Walji, UN-FAO

What is it? Why do we need one? Why hasn’t it been done before?

This introduction to the Landscape approach (LA) will reveal the basics, benefits, tradeoffs and challenges of this holistic management process.
This week’s learning will cover:

  • Introductory explanation
  • The landscape and its users
  • The 10 principles to the LA
  • Challenges of Implementing the LA
  • Landscape Case Studies

Introductory exploration

What is the Landscape approach?

The landscape approach (LA) is a management process that deals with landscapes and its various complex components in a holistic, integrated and multidisciplinary manner, combining natural resource management with environmental and livelihood considerations. Key to the landscape approach is the incorporation of the various land uses e.g. (forestry, agriculture, fisheries, conservation, recreational use, urban planning) into a single management processes which aims to balance and synergize the benefits and tradeoffs to both communities and to the underlying ecosystem integrity.

Although the idea seems simple, these processes have traditionally been managed in “silos” or in isolation, at times leading to unnecessary negative feedbacks and inefficiencies. By capitalizing on the inherent biophysical and social connections between these land uses, landscape management can make an ecosystems more resilient, productive and create win-win solutions for communities.    

  1. Explore this introduction video, which explains the basics of the landscape approach by CIFOR scientist Terry Sutherland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYxSygwJ8TM
  2. Explore various components of the Landscape approach (Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), Agroforestry, People and Food security) through this interactive tree, prepared by the International Forestry Students Association. http://www.ifsa.net/shortcourse/lesson-2/  

The landscape and its users

A key component of the LA is that it factors in human activities and their institutions, viewing them as an integral part of the system rather than as external agents. Taking into account all actors within and outside the landscape is key, their views and special interests need to be considered and efforts to bring them together into a roundtable discussion is integral to allow conflicts to settle, tradeoffs to be assessed and a plan of action to form. This approach recognizes that the root cause of many management problems may not be site-specific and that a solution lies in multi stakeholder interventions and extensive negotiation between all users to implement effective actions.

Ten Landscape Principles:

A landscape approach is based on a number of principles, which come from human rights and  good governance principles. To provide a guiding framework to the landscape approach, The Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) and its partners described the 10 principles which emphasize  adaptive management and achieving multiple objectives.

  1. Continuous learning and adaptation
  2. Common concern entry point
  3. Multiple scales
  4. Multifunctionality
  5. Multiple stakeholders
  6. Negotiated and transparent change logic
  7. Clarification of rights and responsibilities
  8. Participatory and user-friendly monitoring
  9. Resilience
  10. Strengthened stakeholder capacity.

Check out this post by AFR100 which further outlines the 10 landscape principles: https://afr100.org/content/principles

Challenges of Implementing the LA:

  • Currently the world is organized by strict jurisdictional boundaries, which lead to high levels of fragmentation and therefore rigid administration lines and management. These do not reflect the inter connectivity of our landscapes and hinder the ability to gain the most out of our ecosystems by creating more wins and fewer losses for communities within them.
  • Business currently operate in value and production chains and focus on the sustainability of these chains.  The LA approach adopts a focus on value circles. The challenge is to convince business to invest in landscapes and area based products instead of simply value chains.
  • Implementation of the LA will require business leaders who are not only responsible but also environmentally aware. These leaders will need to be backed by an informed populous and citizens who are willing to advocate for change but are also supported and backstopped with legal precedent for to push for action.

Landscape Case Studies

Explore the following landscape case studies in Pakistan and Indonesia to get a short overview of ongoing projects which utilized the LA and direct benefits to local stakeholders.

Test Your Knowledge

Find out how restoration ready you are by taking this short quiz. For training participants wishing to receive a certificate of completion, this quiz is mandatory.


Your Restoration Challenge

Now that you have learned the importance of involving the key actors and stakeholders in the landscape approach, go ahead and identify the main stakeholders in your landscape and name their key priority area. Some examples could be:

  • Local communities; keeping traditional practices, harvesting fuel wood,
  • Industry; access to clean water for production,
  • Government; maintaining tourism and foreign investment.

Sharing your stakeholders on Facebook using #thinklandscape and #GLFNairobi2018 will help us understand your perspectives and identify common entry points for the users of our landscape. Identifying is the first step towards bringing stakeholders together at a round table to find win win solutions.

Share your thoughts with us