Development

What are landscape approaches?

The concept of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) has risen up the global development agenda in recent years. Although interpreted in different ways, there is widespread agreement that integrated approaches are critical to addressing the triple challenge of sustaining a growing human population, preventing biodiversity loss, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.

September 12, 2021

The concept of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) has risen up the global development agenda in recent years. Although interpreted in different ways, there is widespread agreement that integrated approaches are critical to addressing the triple challenge of sustaining a growing human population, preventing biodiversity loss, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Such systems-based approaches aim to improve the allocation and management of land to simultaneously achieve social, economic and environmental objectives, while preserving valuable ecosystems and the essential services they provide.

Applying such approaches demands an in-depth understanding of the multifunctionality of ecosystems and production systems and the roles played by all actors, as well as potential synergies and trade-offs between different sectors, land uses and institutions. This sensitivity to local conditions is what makes each ILM project unique since approaches and solutions are necessarily tailored to landscape-specific challenges, needs and interests.

Ensuring that the needs and interests of all stakeholders are fully captured in ILM initiatives demands participatory, multi-stakeholder planning processes and governance structures. This helps empower marginalized groups that are too often alienated from decision-making processes, while ensuring that landscape solutions fully correspond with local practices, norms and knowledge.

Even though in every landscape ILM approaches are interpreted and applied differently, most are premised on common set of guiding principles. The 10 principles proposed by Jeffrey Sayer and colleagues in 2013 often serve as inspiration for ILM projects. These principles relate to among other things the multistakeholder processes, multifunctionality, participation, adaptive management and common concern entry points.

Characteristics of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM)

Our experience suggests that ILM is a process for managing the competing demands on land through the implementation of adaptive and integrated management systems.

When combined with well-planned and executed technical interventions (such as tree growing, sustainable agriculture etc), ILM enables landscape multi-functionality to be managed, and its benefits (to society and the environment) to be captured and distributed.

We see six critical elements in the ILM process:

Stakeholder identification

The identification of stakeholders, and an assessment of relations amongst them is an essential prerequisite to forming multi-stakeholder fora. Identification via stakeholder mapping, or Net-Mapping.

Multi-stakeholder fora

‘Safe’ spaces in which stakeholders with different interests can gather, deliberate, negotiate, learn and plan. Such spaces need to be highly attentive to power dynamics. Important skills required here include facilitation, mediation, negotiation, and leadership.

Common vision

A co-created and co-desired future state (of a landscape) only achievable through stakeholder cooperation. Provides a destination behind which people and initiatives can line up. A vision can provide strong incentives for buy-in, inclusivity, a basis for collective action, and a baseline against which trade-offs can be evaluated and common concerns identified.

Institutionalisation

ILM fora or processes are identified as some form of entity, deriving sustainable funding, and with associated staff; institutions become a source of identity for their participants. The institution is embedded or ‘nested’ within a broader system and/or organisation.

Iterative and adaptive management

Clear feedback loops and learning capabilities integrated into institutional and process design. Institutional flexibility and nimble-footedness influence daily operations and decision-making. Monitoring and evaluation support self-reflection, as does research-based evidence, and contribute to future planning.

Technical solutions and tools

Tools, technical capabilities; capacity building for stakeholder platform management; external technical support, input and deliberation.


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