November 18, 2013 - November 20, 2013

Landscape Dialogue in the Maasai Steppe, Tanzania

Arusha, Tanzania

Convening stakeholders to scale impact

Landscapes are complex entities that require extensive stakeholder coordination to realize the four goals of ecological conservation, agricultural production, livelihood security, and institutional capacity. To encourage this coordinated action, the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative engages landscapes in Focal Landscape Dialogues. These Dialogues bring together stakeholders from multiple sectors to reflect on the state of their landscape and identify ways to scale-up their impact.

A prime example of this method took place recently in Arusha, Tanzania. This successful Focal Landscape Dialogue, dedicated to the Maasai Steppe Heartland landscape, featured over 30 participants from local NGOs, conservation groups, research institutions, and community groups. The workshop was hosted by one LPFN partner, African Wildlife Foundation, facilitated by two others, EcoAgriculture Partners and KENVO, and included excellent participation from the local office of another, World Vision.

Pastoralism and parks

The Maasai Steppe Heartland is home to Maasai pastoralist communities. These pastoralists raise cattle, sheep, and goats across some of northern Tanzania’s most important wildlife corridors. The Maasai Steppe Heartland includes Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks, home to numerous species of wild animals, including elephants, wildebeest, zebras, buffalo, giraffes, and Thomson’s gazelles. The landscape is also home to numerous agricultural communities. The area’s farmers, pastoralists, and wildlife all compete for land, water, and resources. As a result, local-level conservation efforts, agricultural interests, and livelihoods considerations are often at odds with one another. To achieve success in all three areas, a landscape-level action plan is needed.

The Maasai Steppe Heartland Focal Landscape Dialogue utilized participatory methods of analysis and action planning. The stakeholders selected two priority areas of landscape innovation to consider further in scaling-up impact in the landscape.

  • The first priority area selected was integrated planning. The participants agreed that they needed to incorporate their existing village-level land use plans into a synergistic landscape-level plan. They also emphasized the need to coordinate their activities across their sectors, specifically coordinating research agendas with the needs and interests of the pastoralist communities and local NGOs.
  • The second priority area selected was education and awareness. The participants prioritized this area because they saw a need to move beyond their traditional focus on conservation awareness to education outreach which incorporates all landscape goals, especially livelihood security. This priority area includes investigating new methods of message delivery, such as low-cost video production and a renewed focus on local-language materials. The participants also saw the need to incorporate better planning in their awareness-raising activities, coordinating efforts to reinforce each organization’s work and ensure that people are not hearing different messages from different educators.

Collaboration for conservation

The participants also identified the partners they need to implement their action plans. They will engage other community groups, NGOs, private sector companies, and government offices to ensure their success. Furthermore, the Maasai Steppe Heartland stakeholders are investigating new partnerships, both locally and in the larger LPFN network. They are also continuing to share their successes and challenges with other landscapes throughout Tanzania and the world to foster a community of learning and gain insight from others’ successes.

Landscape-level action is not easy, but the Focal Landscape Dialogue gave Maasai Steppe Heartland stakeholders hope that they can achieve their goals through coordinated effort across sectors. In this way, the vital natural resources and wildlife will be conserved while production and livelihood interests are advanced across the region. These Dialogue participants will now move forward together and display the benefits of a landscape approach to sustainable development.

Slideshow of highlights of the dialogue


Manyara Ranch