April 22, 2017

On Earth Day and every day, Science Matters for sustainable landscapes

Louis Wertz, EcoAgriculture Partners

Science is a pillar of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative because the partners know that without it, we cannot achieve our common mission: to create and sustain integrated agricultural landscapes worldwide.

Science can drive good decision-making and form the backbone of good management: through repeated observation we determine what works and what doesn’t, and adjust our plans accordingly. But science can also mislead: research that is too myopic can suggest solutions to one problem that have unintended consequences elsewhere. The LPFN has developed a multi-disciplinary scientific agenda to support the transition to sustainable landscapes that recognizes these important facts.

During the first three years of the Initiative, catalytic funding from the Global Environment Facility, United Nations Environment, the Government of Norway, and the Government of the Netherlands, along with many contributions from partner organizations, supported the development of a number of key studies, meta-analyses, and synthetic reports that identified and explored solutions to the major challenges facing those who would manage agricultural landscapes holistically. Influential studies published by the Initiative include:

A number of other peer-reviewed scientific articles were devised within Initiative working groups and produced  by the Initiative’s research partners. Highlights include:

This March marked the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative. Since #ScienceMatters is the theme of this year’s Earth Day, we’re starting our look back at the highlights of the first five years with a tour of the Initiative’s scientific work: what we called the “Global Review of the science and practice of integrated landscape management.”

Most notably, small consortia of researchers from Initiative partner organizations led a series of studies we collectively call the “Continental Reviews.” These studies used a standardized survey methodology to identify and analyze the state of integrated landscape initiatives on the ground across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Europe. Thousands of agriculture and conservation efforts were scrutinized using screening criteria to identify “true” integrated landscape initiatives. 428 initiatives in total across the four studies satisfied the screening criteria and participated in detailed surveys to assess their motivations, investments, challenges, and impacts. The data paints, for the first time, a coherent portrait of the integrated landscape initiative, and provides the basis for all our efforts, from the grassroots to the global, to strengthen, improve and replicate them.

In all, the Initiative has published or supported the peer-review publication of 70 reports, articles, case studies, manuals, and briefs over the past 5 years.

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