Integrated Landscape Management

What is a Landscape?

A landscape is a social-ecological system that consists of a mosaic of natural and/or human-modified ecosystems, often with a characteristic configuration of topography, vegetation, land use, and settlements that is influenced by the ecological, historical, economic and cultural processes and activities of the area.

  • The mix of land cover and use types (landscape composition), their spatial arrangement (landscape structure) and the norms and modalities of its governance contribute to the character and functionality of a landscape, which as a mosaic usually includes agricultural lands, native vegetation, and urban areas.
  • Depending on the management objectives of the stakeholders, landscape boundaries may be discrete, fuzzy or nested, and may correspond to watershed boundaries, distinct land features, and/or jurisdictional and administrative boundaries, or cross-cut such demarcations. Because of the broad range of factors a landscape may encompass areas of 100s to 10,000s square kilometers.
This diagram roughly outlines some of the key issues at play in landscapes, and some of the approaches used in integrated landscape management.

This diagram roughly outlines some of the key issues at play in landscapes, and some of the approaches used in integrated landscape management. (click to enlarge)

What do we mean by Integrated Landscape Management?

Integrated landscape management involves long-term collaboration among different groups of land managers and stakeholders to achieve their multiple objectives and expectations within the landscape for local livelihoods, health and well-being.

  • Integrated landscape management may encompass agricultural production, provision of ecosystem functions and services (such as water flow regulation and quality, pollination, climate change mitigation and adaptation, cultural values), protection of biodiversity, landscape beauty, identity and recreational value.
  • Stakeholders seek complementary solutions to common problems and pursue new opportunities through technical, ecological, market, social and policy means that reduce trade-offs and strengthen synergies among different landscape objectives.
  • Because landscapes are coupled socio-ecological systems, complexity and change are inherent properties in their management.
  • There are many different approaches to integrated landscape management, with different entry points, processes and institutional arrangements.
  • Most share features of conflict management and clarification and mutual understanding of right, stakes and objectives; broad stakeholder participation, negotiation around common objectives and strategies and adaptive management based on shared learning, and sustainability as a goal for landscapes to provide for human needs and ecosystem health.
Read more

The Little Sustainable Landscapes Book

“Recognizing Common Ground: Finding Meaning in Integrated Landscape Management” by Sara J. Scherr, Seth Shames, and Rachel Friedman, EcoAgriculture Partners

“Unraveling the ‘Landscape Approach’—Are We on the Right Track?” by Roderick Zagt, Tropenbos, and Nick Pasiecznik, ILEIA

“‘Landscape approach’ defies simple definition — and that’s good” by Terry Sunderland, CIFOR