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In this chapter the practical steps that are required to introduce integrated planning for sustainable management of land resources in a particular country are described.

Initiating the Approach

Because the scope of this document is global, it is impossible to cater for all the variations in environmental, socio-economic and political conditions. It is therefore necessary to interpret these guidelines in a flexible and adaptive way that respects and uses particular national circumstances. Nevertheless, the seven key factors provided in Chapter 3 remain common to all introductions of integrated planning for sustainable management of land resources and are essential to its success. To recapitulate these are:


  • initial activities
  • time frame
  • introductory workshops
  • campaign for information and education
  • pilot area
  • countrywide application

  • a clearly formulated objective
  • a recognition of stakeholders and their differing objectives
  • policy and regulations that create an enabling environment
  • effective institutions at local, sub-national and national level
  • an accessible knowledge base
  • a platform for negotiation
  • a set of planning procedures

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that these prerequisites are put in place, or that the conditions are created for them to evolve. Partnership between government and people is the key to the success of the programme. Because effective implementation is participatory and built upon local people's initiative, it should be recognized that time spent to engage and gain local support is of inestimable value and of greater importance than the mere speed of adoption of a plan.

The introduction of the new approach into a country will therefore be a gradual process in most cases. Parallel and mutually supportive activities are recommended to achieve a successful outcome as shown in Figure 14.



At the national level, an introductory workshop will be held. Those invited include representatives from ministries concerned with land and land-use related matters, representatives from the sub-national level, potential donor organizations, NGOs and other interested institutions. The objectives of this workshop are to create awareness about land-use issues in the country, to formulate related objectives and to establish a coordinating committee - the task force. Attention will be given to facilitating various institutional, fiscal and legal reforms to create an enabling environment. In addition, a pilot district is selected, a programme of action in this district developed, and responsibilities discussed with the district representatives. The linkage between the national and the sub-national task force has to be established and formalized. An efficient M&E system is set up.

BOX 29: Learning by Doing

It is all but impossible to learn to fly an aeroplane by simply reading instructional books. While this kind of learning is important, you must eventually get in the pilot's seat and practice flying.

Source: S. Halpin. 1996. Holistic Resource Management Quarterly. Special Edition. Center for Holistic Resources Management. Abuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

After the national workshop, activities at sub-national level are undertaken. A workshop informs people at this level about the results of the national workshop, and a strategic plan of action is developed. Participants should come from relevant district institutions (e.g. line departments, local farmer associations), NGO representatives at local and national levels, and potential donor organizations. In addition, the task force has to be established and responsibilities discussed. During the workshop, a pilot area within the region or district is selected.

At the local level the process will be initiated by the regional task force with an assessment of the present situation in the rural areas and an awareness creation process using different media (e.g. theatre, newspapers, comics, etc.). This should serve the purpose of informing people at the local level that the government is in the process of national planning which requires people's input and action. After the first meeting, a programme has to be agreed upon to apply the proposed planning methods. Experience from this pilot exercise will guide activities at the national level, and provide the basis for widespread adoption of the approach.

Time frame

Experience has shown that the planning process should not take longer than eight to ten months. The first phase focussed on initiating the planning process will cover a relatively short time. Workshops at different levels can be held within the first two months, starting with the workshop at national level.

The implementation phase will cover at least two years. The technical part will start after the plan is accepted and formalized. However, some activities can already start in parallel with the planning phase, particularly the creation of an enabling environment by reforming institutional structures and by review and change of policies and laws. This accompanying process needs a relatively long period as any change of policies, laws or institutional structures is inevitably time consuming.

It would be unhelpful to propose a generally applicable time frame for planning and implementation because it is dependent on the specific situation in the planning area and has to incorporate flexibility. Therefore a realistic time schedule has to be negotiated by the task force and the groups or institutions involved. The M&E system allows adaptation of the time frame for planning and implementation if necessary.

Introductory Workshops

The first step is to organize a national workshop to discuss the concepts and methods of integrated planning for sustainable land management and to identify and tailor the best strategy to promote its adoption.

This workshop might be arranged on an ad hoc basis or hosted by a committee already operating in a related field. All the relevant government ministries should be involved, together with representatives of decision-makers at regional level, local groups, appropriate NGOs and, if possible, the donor community. Among the potential topics for discussion are:

  • the present national approach to land-use planning and land resource management
  • adapting IPSMLR to the specific conditions of the country (including creation of the enabling environment and institutional support)
  • coordination and information exchange among ministries
  • mechanisms for devolving responsibilities to community level
  • ways of constructively involving NGOs in the process
  • opportunities for donor support or technical assistance
  • the next steps for introducing the new approach at sub-national and local level

A direct result of this workshop will be the establishment of a task force to guide the introduction of IPSMLR in the country. If possible, an existing body should be entrusted with these responsibilities. If not, a new body has to be created (chapter 4).

The task force at national level should be made up of policy- and decision-makers and technical experts from government departments concerned with food production, agriculture, rural development, fisheries, forestry, the environment, public works and planning. In some countries, traditional community representatives and officials from NGOs will also play an important part. The task force must also have expert support in the field of communications and education, and also access to legal and financial expertise when required. The composition of the sub-national task force should follow the same strategy of membership. The duties of this task force are related to its position as an intermediary between the national and local task forces and they are therefore oriented to provide practical assistence.



The task forces are responsible for setting up a coordinated action-orientated information programme for the pilot area and later on for each part of the country.

A Campaign of Information and Education

The aim of the information campaign is not simply to provide information to the people. Its purpose is to set in motion a process by which the land users generate and exchange information, actively participate in discussions and in community-level environmental initiatives, and begin to use the information provided by the government task force through the regional task force. A successful programme will consist of a number of communication activities using a wide variety of media, aimed at persuading people across the country, but also targeted at specific groups, such as indigenous communities, women farmers, youth, or the inhabitants of individual regions such as mountains or wetlands.

The fact that at national level there is interest in addressing land management issues through the empowerment of those who actually manage the land may be conveyed through press releases, posters and radio campaigns. Initiation and publication of studies into the causes of local environmental degradation problems should complement mass media communications. Additionally, information on success stories where environmental degradation is currently being controlled at local level should be publicized. From the very beginning of the campaign, media initiatives should be designed within an interactive framework. The message is that the task force wants to know what the people think, what is working, and what is not working. Phone-in radio programmes and live debates about land resource issues on television can be used both to provide information to a large audience and to allow the people to vet the agenda and participate in discussions.

Sensitization is important not only to inform people about environmental issues, decentralization of government power and management group formation, but also to generate community interest in the land resources available and build a sense of community by promoting collaborative efforts to improve the environment. Although subsistence farmers are often well aware of land degradation that is happening around them, often as a direct result of their own activities, they perceive themselves as having no power to intervene, contribute or make their voices heard. For the situation to change radically, so as to tap the knowledge, enthusiasm, and work potential of local communities, they must first be aware that they do have the power to make and implement decisions and that they will be supported in doing so. The aim of the sensitization programme is to get the people thinking, talking and organizing activities to improve the management of their land and other natural resources, to inform them of their rights, to enable them to demonstrate their capacities and to begin to support and train them to enhance their skills.

The information programme will be most effective if it works in a practical way as well as on an abstract educational level. Practical, short-term initiatives, proposed by the people to improve the local environment, such as cleaning up wasteland, planting trees, etc., should be promoted during the sensitization phase to encourage active involvement and a sense of potential and achievement.

One or more pilot areas should then be selected that adequately represent the land management issues and in which the community is willing to get involved in the implementation process.

Select Pilot Area

The objective of the pilot exercise is to demonstrate an integrated approach to land-use planning which is essentially reliant on the resources available to the village or community, and is not dependent on high technology or expensive technical assistance. Although the geographical conditions obviously differ between villages within the same country and even within the same district, the approach and the methods can be replicated given that the people are trained and committed and that they receive at least the minimum technical support necessary from government.

As outlined above, the selection of the pilot area is a direct result of the awareness creation campaign at national and sub-national level. To ensure that the approach is adapted and can be successfully implemented, a small number of pilot areas should be selected for trials, preferably in two different districts and in contrasting geographical regions or agro-ecological zones of the country. These areas would normally correspond to the land of a village or community. The following aspects should be considered in the selection process. The pilot area should:

  • be located in one agro-ecological zone
  • have a manageable size
  • be representative in living conditions, resources, population, accessibility, etc.
  • have land-use-related problems

In addition, the population in selected pilot areas should also reflect different attitudes towards the campaign. Therefore, it would be appropriate to select at least one area where a positive attitude could be stated and another area where people have reacted reluctantly.

The lessons learned from these different settings will provide valuable input to further implementation. It is anticipated that experience from the pilot areas will guide the policy review at national level, leading to an improved enabling environment for future planning and management of land resources which most comfortably fits the social and political conditions of the country.

Once the pilot areas are selected, the methods described in chapter 4 can be applied according to the specific conditions. Making a land-use plan in the pilot village is the key element of testing the new approach and training the villagers. It is assumed that, at least for the pilot phase, the LRMG will be guided by the national task force and will need to receive technical and administrative assistance from government personnel at the district or provincial level, or from NGOs. Nevertheless, the techniques used should be participatory, with maximum involvement of stakeholders, and adapt the technical procedures, as far as possible, to a level at which they can be carried out by trained extension or rural development agents.

An example checklist for the formulation of possible strategies and action plans to meet policy goals related to production areas is shown in Box 30. This evaluation process will consider two viewpoints: the viewpoint of the people in the pilot area and the viewpoint of the members of the task force who initially introduced the approach. Constraints have to be identified and discussed and an improved planning strategy developed in order to overcome them. Positive experience should also be analysed to characterize the components of success and identify new opportunities. Finally the approach has to be adapted according to the results of evaluation of the pilot experience.

BOX 30: Formulating National Strategies for Production


Identify and remove constraints to production and provide incentives encouraging increased production.

Action programme:

Identification of constraints and the needs for incentives through surveys and consultation with land users, including the following issues:

(a) Economic production incentives
Is the present net reward to producers a sufficient incentive to encourage increased production; if not, what interventions are necessary? What part is played by direct or indirect taxation? Factors are:

  • demand and supply situation, contributing factors
  • net rewards retained by the producer
  • quantification of incentive gap, if existing
  • possibilities and points for intervention

(b) Land tenure system
Do present systems inhibit or encourage production, and what are the reasons for this? Is land available to all potential producers on conditions which permit and encourage long-term investment in sustainable or increased production? Information will be required on:

  • availability of land, land markets
  • type and characteristics of present tenure systems
  • access to land or the right to own land
  • analysis in terms of user control and return on investment
  • security of tenure and adequacy of arrangements for settlement of disputes

(c) Physical infrastructure
Do arrangements exist to transport produce to markets or is this a constraint? Do cleaning, packing or processing facilities exist where necessary? If not, how could they be provided?

(d) Services
To what extent do the following exist, and how efficiently do they operate?

  • market structure, availability of price and market information
  • production related information (agricultural extension, availability of improved varieties of crops, seeds, inputs)
  • credit: is lack of availability or entitlement a constraint?
  • planning and management assistance
  • land demarcation and registration
  • resolution of disputes.

(e) Social and other factors
Are there any other factors, for example factors relating to gender, education or social class, which adversely affect production ?

Countrywide Application

Once the approach is applied in the pilot area, the experience and results can be evaluated. Widespread application of integrated land-use planning throughout the country will also depend on the synergy established between the pilot area studies and the activities being carried out in parallel at national level (chapter 5). Successful demonstration of IPSMLR in the pilot areas is essential if the new approach is to capture public support and spread throughout the country. The creation of enabling laws and incentives, and effective institutional support, including empowerment of local institutions, is equally essential. Box 31 lists guidelines for keeping the introduction of IPSMLR on course.

BOX 31: Guidelines for Action

1. Involve the Community in managing its own resources
Maintain an active and participatory programme of awareness raising.
Provide the resources needed for innovative education, extension, development of regional skills and capacity building.
Strengthen and feed a culture of participatory planning, debate, feedback and decision making.
Encourage, support, finance and facilitate the activities of local resource management groups.

2. Support good decision making with good information
Establish continuing data collection, management and dissemination systems.
Initiate programmes for monitoring, evaluation, discussion and change.

3. Provide incentives for local integrated resource management
Aim for the development of institutional frameworks that feed and strengthen integration.
Record, recognize and reward progress.
Remove disincentives caused by legal or administrative bureaucracies.

4. Develop a long-term integrated policy and institutional framework
Campaign for, establish and maintain a supportive institutional, policy and legislative environment.
Work towards building a long term integrated government policy framework.
Identify a suitable departmental or host agency, or collaborating institutions at national level, to foster and provide requirements for the development of LRMGs, regional land resources planning groups, and the national land resources advisory group.
Identify stakeholders at local, regional and national levels who have responsibility for resource management, decision making or policy setting, and invite representation from all groups at all levels.

It is important that land-use planning is integrated at the various levels of government, and that the linkages between land-use planning at national, sub-national and village level are transparent and obvious to the stakeholders. Given this mutual understanding, the preparation of an Indicative National Land-use Plan, or the incorporation of land resource concerns in a National Environmental Action Plan should act as a stimulus to land-use planning at the local level. These Plans indicate the geographical, administrative or sectoral areas affected by their strategies and programmes and thus reveal opportunities for villages to obtain additional resources that become available when such programmes are implemented.

The IPSMLR process is easily replicable and positive experience of application in the pilot areas should lead to its rapid spread if there is a very clear partnership between the government and the people. Governments should be seen as promoting a popular policy, which effectively empowers local people and gives them a greater degree of control over the resources on which their livelihoods depend. Ultimately, IPSMLR benefits individual land users whose livelihoods and quality of life are dependent on the land. At the same time it provides long-term benefits from the conservation of natural resources, which also fulfill country commitments to the plan of action of the UNCED Earth Summit and subsequent conventions on desertification, climate change and the preservation of biodiversity.


Halpin, S. 1996. Holistic Resource Management Quarterly. Special Edition. Center for Holistic Resources Management. Abuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Further Recommended Literature

Kutter, A., Nachtergaele, F.O. and Verheye, W.H. 1997. The New Approach to land use planning and management and its Application in Sierra Leone. ITC Journal 1197 - 3/4. Enschede.

UNCED, 1993. Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development. United Nations, New York.

Verheye, W., Brinkman, R. and Sims, D.A. 1997. Elements of a different approach to land development issues. The Land 1(2): 143-152.

GTZ. 1999. Guidelines for Land Use Planning - Methods, Strategies and Tools, Eschborn.

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