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Integrated Landscape Management

What do we mean by integrated landscape management?

Integrated landscape management (ILM) is synonymous with landscape or ecosystem management at scale. The following definitions are relevant to our work: 

  • A landscape approach deals with large-scale processes in an integrated and multidisciplinary manner, combining natural resource management with environmental and livelihood considerations. The landscape approach also factors in human activities and their institutions, viewing them as an integral part of the system rather than as external agents. This approach recognizes that the root causes of problems may not be site-specific and that a development agenda requires multistakeholder interventions to negotiate and implement actions (FAO 2012).
  • Landscape approaches refer to a set of concepts, tools, methods and approaches deployed in landscapes in a bid to achieve multiple economic, social and environmental objectives (multifunctionality) through processes that recognize, reconcile and synergize the interests, attitudes and actions of multiple actors. Therefore, landscape approaches usually involve some form of multistakeholder process (Minang et al., 2015).
  • Integrated landscape management is the management of production systems and natural resources in an area large enough to produce vital ecosystem services and small enough to be managed by the people using the land and producing those services (FAO, 2013).
  • 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 (LPFN, 2016). 

The protection, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services has been analysed with a specific focus. Sayer et al. (2013) listed the following ten principles for landscape approaches adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity:  

  1. Continuous learning and adaptation
  2. Common concern entry point
  3. Multiple scales
  4. Multifunctionality
  5. Multiple stakeholders
  6. Negotiated and transparent change logic
  7. Clarification of rights and responsibilities
  8. Participatory and user-friendly monitoring
  9. Resilience
  10. Strengthened stakeholder capacity. 

FAO’s comparative advantage on ILM

The Land and Water Division is FAO’s focal point for ILM. ILM approaches can help countries find “win–win” solutions that support the implementation of national policies and sustainable development in line with multilateral environment agreements such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. “ILM for ecosystem services and biodiversity” is one of three work streams in FAO’s Strategic Programme 2 on ecosystem services and biodiversity.

FAO implements projects funded by the Global Environment Facility and other donors. FAO is also an active knowledge management partner for sustainable land management (SLM) with the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), the secretariat of which is hosted by the Centre for Development and Environment at Bern University. WOCAT is a consortium of institutions to support the adoption, adaptation, dissemination and mainstreaming of SLM and the sharing of SLM best practices by member countries of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The aim is to assist land users and the public to benefit from secure ecosystem services and the capacity to adapt to a fast-changing world.

ILM is becoming increasingly favoured in projects and programmes for the management of complex human–environment interactions. It encompasses interventions from the microcatchment scale managed largely by communities and other local stakeholders, to wider development among multiple sectors and stakeholders concerned with productive and non-productive land uses. ILM supports the integrated management of natural resources at scale for the optimization of ecosystem functions and services within defined landscapes: food and agricultural production; economic development; socio-cultural support; ecological regulation (e.g. of nutrients, carbon stocks, greenhouse emissions, and water flow and supply); and their interactions (e.g. upstream–downstream and terrestrial–aquatic–atmospheric). 

A recent FAO publication presents the findings of a stocktake of lessons learned from the 36 projects conducted under the TerrAfrica Strategic Investment Programme for sub-Saharan Africa, which aimed to develop capacities at all levels for a transition towards SLM. A grant by the Global Environment Facility of US$150 million leveraged some US$800 million of co-financing by governments and project partners. Among other things, the publication showcases the experiences of the Kagera Transboundary Agro-ecosystem Management Project to introduce transboundary agro-ecosystem management in the Kagera River Basin, which is shared by Burundi, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. Through the project, in close cooperation with the governments of the countries concerned, FAO assisted smallholder farmers and service providers in eight catchments in 21 districts to test and adapt SLM practices (for crops, livestock, forests, soils and water) and integrated production systems that sustain biodiversity, enhance the delivery of ecosystem services and contribute to sustainable livelihoods and development goals. 

The lessons learned from the project show the importance and multiple benefits of integrated approaches based on the three dimensions (economic, social and environmental) that contribute to key sustainability criteria: productivity and food security; conservation and efficient use of resources; human and ecosystem resilience (capacity to adapt to change); and good governance/equity. Many of the projects in the TerrAfrica Strategic Investment Programme showed the benefits of direct action with land users that encourage them to take ownership of land resource planning; such involvement increases the sustainability of local landscapes and develops the capacity of local actors to manage and monitor impacts. These landscape approaches are referred to variously as integrated watershed/landscape/territorial management and, more recently, (rangeland/forest) landscape restoration. 

Specific case studies by local authors are provided in the publication FAO 2016. SLM in practice in the Kagera Basin. Lessons learned for scaling up at landscape level - Results of the Kagera Transboundary Agro-ecosystem Management Project. 

In 2016, the “ecosystem services and biodiversity” work stream of FAO’s Strategic Programme 2 conducted an FAO-wide stocktake of ILM experiences, products, training materials, media and case studies, and in 2017, a guide aimed at practitioners and policy-makers on ILM for the provisioning of ecosystem services based on experiences in several regions was published. 

The projects described above will continue to develop and disseminate tools, methods and guidance for land resource and degradation assessment, land-use/resource planning, natural resource and watershed management, and incentives for ecosystem services.  

Work on monitoring and assessing impacts will be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by developing harmonized approaches and capacity for monitoring relevant goals and targets (e.g. SDG 2: food security; SDG 2.4: sustainable and productive agriculture; 15.3: land degradation neutrality; and 6.4: water-use efficiency).