Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest were initially derided and rejected, leading Darwin himself to delay the publication of his seminal text, On the Origin of Species. Yet today, his theories are commonly accepted as principles that explain the diversity of life on Earth as the product of millions of years of evolution.
To draw a modest comparison, it might be argued that the ‘landscape approach’ has undergone a process of evolution itself to become the guiding principle on multiple use management today. It might also be argued that, much like evolution, the process is still ongoing – while the landscape approach has been central to development discourse for many years, it has yet to fully realize its potential in practice.
In the grand scheme of evolutionary epochs, the development of the landscape approach over the past few decades has been but a relative drop in the ocean of time. However, it should be said that this drop has generated a veritable tsunami of rhetoric, literature and knowledge about how we can clothe, feed and house an ever-growing human population without degrading our natural environment.
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in collaboration with several of its partners, has recently completed an exhaustive review of the literature on the integrated landscape approach, scrolling through almost 17,000 documents (yes, read that again: 17,000!). Acknowledging a growing interest in the landscape approach in the literature and at international fora, we wanted to better understand exactly what it could offer in practice.
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Featured image by Ollivier Girard CIFOR.