HERCULES project helps demonstrate how landscape initiatives in Europe foster the integrated management of the landscapes where they act.
The landscape approach is gaining attention all over the world as a way of addressing the complexity that the integrated management of the land requires. This approach is characterized by its holistic understanding of the land (considering both, environment and society), of the processes that shape the landscapes, and of the multiplicity of actors and sectors that contribute and are affected by these processes. Therefore, the landscape approach fosters the cooperation of multiple stakeholders and sectors at many levels to achieve sustainable futures.
Terry Sunderland and James Reed of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) highlighted some months ago in a post on Forests News that this approach has been ongoing in discourses for years and that it is time to recognize its practical application.
The Landscape for People Food and Nature (LPFN) initiative started this task some years ago, with a series of continental reviews on how initiatives in each continent foster the integrated management of the landscapes where they act. These initiatives have been termed integrated landscape initiatives. Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and South and Southeast Asia (in submission) have already been reviewed. We wanted to join the LPFN initiative in its effort and contribute with the European continental review.
300+ initiatives shows shift toward holistic approach growing
Within the European research project HERCULES we started in January 2014 collecting all the integrated landscape initiatives we could find in Europe through: Google searches, canvassing HERCULES members and other experts and organizations, and a snowball sampling where we asked the initiatives collected to suggest other initiatives they might know. Through this process we collected more than 300 initiatives. This number highlights a shift towards a more holistic approach to landscape management all over Europe. Following the methodology developed by the LPFN initiative for the previous continental reviews, we invited the representatives of the initiatives to a very detailed online survey about their aims, functioning, activities, participants, funding options, success, and challenges.
In Europe, nature conservation and cultural heritage enhancement are among the most important aims for the initiatives, but always in combination with many other goals…
We found that, responding to their integrated nature, these initiatives act in heterogeneous landscapes and foster a broad range of landscape services (aesthetics, nature, culture, recreation possibilities, food production, personal and social fulfillment, etc.). In Europe, nature conservation and cultural heritage enhancement are among the most important aims for the initiatives, but always in combination with many other goals, such as landscape beauty enhancement, rural livelihoods improvement, fostering sense of place and personal fulfillment, improving governance structures, raising awareness, and many others.
With differing goals, stakeholder mix differs between continents
This variety of aims requires the involvement of different sectors and stakeholders. Here is where we noticed a difference between European initiatives and the initiatives operating in other continents: whereas in Europe the most frequently involved sectors after nature conservation and agriculture are tourism and education, in the other continents, nature conservation and agriculture are followed by forestry and rural livelihoods. As a consequence, the stakeholders participating in the initiatives also differ from one continent to the other. In Europe, the most common groups are independent experts and civic and cultural associations, whereas in other continents the predominant groups are governments and producers.
Like in other continents, European initiatives are strong in supporting multi-sector coordination and planning to foster the accurate management of the landscape, especially in terms of cooperation among sectors and stakeholders, enhancing the role of local communities, and building social capital. But the action of these initiatives alone is not enough. In Europe, as elsewhere, they lack stable and long term financial possibilities, political support, and necessary commitment from society and markets to make their actions more effective.
To find out more about integrated landscape initiatives in Europe, their success and the problems they face, read the paper:
María García-Martín, Claudia Bieling, Abigail Hart, and Tobias Plieninger (2016) Integrated landscape initiatives in Europe: Multi-sector collaboration in multi-functional landscapes. Land Use Policy 58: 43–53.