Wondering what the landscape approach is? - It seeks to provide tools and concepts for allocating and managing land. It aims to achieve social, economic and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, mining and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals. Its 10 principles are a new way to look at the challenges.
Agricultural intensification offers opportunities to close the substantial yield gap that afflicts many production systems, but alone is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the demands of a growing global population, according to a joint article by several scientists published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The authors of the article “Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses" state that demand for nonfood land-based commodities -- including wood products, vegetable oils, biofuels and mined resources -- will also compete for space with agriculture. Intensification of land use and the expansion of agricultural land will combine to determine environmental outcomes.
The manner in which society responds to this and the degree to which agriculture is constrained by measures to maintain environmental values, will not be determined at global or even national scales. That will more likely happen across landscapes in which agricultural and environmental objectives interact and often compete, ecosystem processes unfold, decisions impose on other interests, and emergent properties of aggregated land use patterns are realized. Agricultural landscapes are no longer just farmed entities, they are now recognized as providing multiple values and services to diverse interest groups. „The approach is really to understand the landscape as a whole and what are the drivers of change within that landscape in order to manage each of those patches within the landscape so that they are in inherent complementarities instead of in inherent trade-offs.” - explained scientist Terry Sunderland from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in his recent interview with CIFOR Blog.
Below you find a combination of a synthesis of the interview with Terry Sunderland and a gist of the 'Ten principles' article.
// Complexity of the landscape approach
Landscape approaches facilitate the simultaneous framing of development and conservation goals. However this broad engagement also means more objectives, tradeoffs, and complexity. There are challenges at many levels. A questionnaire survey of practitioners revealed that governance issues and those of poor institutional capacity are judged by practitioners and other experts to be the most pervasive.
Many of the challenges reflect the conceptual changes needed to implement a landscape approach. Landscape approaches imply shifting from project-oriented actions to process-oriented activities. This requires changes at all levels of interventions, from problem definition to monitoring and funding. It ties stakeholders to long-term, iterative processes, giving them responsibilities and empowering them. Sunderland comments that traditionally project life span tends to be three to five years -- which was a very short period of time to get anything done. “There needs to be a switch in the donor mentality, but also institutionally with implementing agencies to be conscious of the fact that if you are going to invest in the landscape it has to be over the longer period.” – said Sunderland.
This approach does have limitations when viewed from the perspective of conventional land management. The landscapes approach framework, and the wicked problem contexts to which it frequently applies, is not amenable to simple performance assessments, priority setting, or analytical evaluation. Components of the landscape can be assessed, and tradeoffs can be measured, but securing information about the overall success of a negotiated strategy, which is itself under frequent revision and change, was a challenge.
// Principles of the landscape approach__ Objective
The 10 principles of the landscape approach are an innovation that should help address the challenge of increasing agricultural production while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. The principles are based on current approaches and statements of “good practice” and on an extensive multidisciplinary consultation with a range of professional institutions, four formal workshops, and 137 further consultations via an online questionnaire. They were adopted by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the CBD and will provide a normative basis. They are:
- Continual learning and adaptive management
- Common concern entry point
- Multiple scales
- Multiple stakeholders
- Negotiated and transparent change logic
- Clarification of rights and responsibilities
- Participatory and user-friendly monitoring
- Strengthened stakeholder capacity
The principles shift the center of gravity of decision making to local people, and from the “what” and “where” to the “how” and “why” of managing the agriculture–environment nexus. Sunderland explains that “the whole approach to developing these principles and guidelines is to provide a framework for aggregating all of these different, and often conflicting, land uses in a single entity.” These principles emphasized adaptive management, stakeholder involvement and multiple objectives as well as an integration of agricultural and environmental priorities that would require a people-centered approach applied at landscape scales and reflect the prevailing views in recent literature.
// Principles of the landscape approach__ Target actors
The principles are targeted at those seeking development and conservation outcomes in multiple-stakeholder contexts. They need to be taken into account in reforming resource management agencies. These agencies must have the multidisciplinary staff capacity and resources to perform these functions and must be able to draw on the principles in ways that meet the particular needs of the problems they are confronting. The principles provide options that can be deployed selectively to meet the challenges found in a universe of unique landscape situations. They should shape the culture of resource management agencies and processes and not replace or duplicate these institutions.
// The Global Landscapes Forum
The first Global Landscapes Forum will be held on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP19 on the 16-17 November in Warsaw.
The Platform has applied to host a technical networking session on the first day of the forum, with GIZ in the lead, World Bank and FAO joining in. It will focus on experiences with the practical application of the landscapes approach.
Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses
The Global Landscapes Forum