Integrated Landscape Management

Each landscape, seascape, watershed, territory or jurisdiction is unique. But all face common challenges for collaborative action. We use the term “landscape” to describe a place defined by ecosystem boundaries (a watershed, a forest) and/or political boundaries (province, state, county). It includes the full range of human and natural activities.

A landscape approach seeks to move away from the often-unsustainable sectoral approach to land management. A landscape approach aims to achieve local level needs, while also considering goals and outcomes important to stakeholders outside the landscape, such as national governments or the international community. 

Integrated landscape management (ILM) is a path to thriving landscapes for all. To make the process easier, more effective and more inclusive, the 1000L initiative offers this Practical Guide to ILM. It provides a generic, locally adaptable, conceptual process and practical guidance for carrying out ILM. The guide is intended for LP conveners, facilitators, leaders, members and supporters.

Another useful resource in pursuing landscape action is the 4 Returns framework, which is a holistic approach to integrated landscape management. 4 Returns, developed by Commonland, is a practical tested framework and language for large-scale landscape restoration, through which diverse stakeholders – farmers, land users, governmental bodies, businesses and conservationists – work together to balance competing demands and co-vision the future of their local landscape. The approach focuses on generating 4 key returns in the landscape—social, natural, economic and inspirational–over a single generation, or 20 years.

A river running through farmlands

Shared vision for thriving landscapes

By joining together through long-term landscape partnerships, local people and communities can connect with and influence governments and policy, social movements, markets and finance, and contribute to systemic solutions for achieving both local and global goals.

All stakeholders in the landscape are working together as a landscape partnership.

Achieve critical benefits from their landscape: inspiration for the next generation, human well-being, healthy nature, and a regenerative economy.

Acting now, but with a generational vision and commitment.

Designing strategies that link areas within a landscape for three purposes: natural habitats; regenerative production and land use; and more sustainable settlements, infrastructure and industry.

Implementing through five elements of integrated landscape management:

Integrated Landscape Management model
Integrated Landscape Management
  • Landscape Partnership developing a strong, long-lasting coalition of organizations in the landscape from across sectors and communities.
  • Shared Understanding building common understanding of the state of the landscape, trends and future scenarios, and one another’s interests.
  • Vision and Planning forging a long-term inspiring vision and strategy, evaluating options, and developing spatially-targeted action plans.
  • Taking Action coordinating actions, developing and financing an integrated landscape investment portfolio, tracking and communicating implementation.
  • Learning and Impact measuring landscape impacts, capturing lessons learned, and using them to adjust the landscape strategy and action plan.
landscape partnership

Landscape Partnership

Landscape partnerships (LPs) are formal groups that bring different stakeholders together to address landscape challenges and opportunities. LPs are commonly organized to address conflicts over access to resources and improve democratization (e.g. to give stronger voice to minority groups).

LPs provide a space for stakeholders to share information, develop a common understanding of problems and opportunities, negotiate desired outcomes, collaboratively develop strategies and plans, and coordinate action to sustainably manage the resources in a landscape. LPs can help build trust between different stakeholders, address power imbalances and facilitate co-learning. These changes in turn will bring down risks for potential investors.

The facilitation of Landscape Partnerships aims to build the trust and common purpose needed among different stakeholders and leaders to plan and manage an integrated landscape.

Shared Understanding

Different stakeholder groups in a landscape typically enter into ILM with different perspectives, based on their own experience, values, observations and expertise. Before they begin to negotiate, agree and act on collaborative landscape management plans, they require sufficient knowledge and information about the landscape as a whole to make informed decisions. This includes understanding both the broader context for their own actions, and the interests, needs and capacities of other stakeholders.

Understanding means making sense of the spatial relationships in a landscape; for example, how upland resource management affects water flow and quality downstream. Understanding the landscape implies awareness of the reasons for historical landscape change (e.g., a high rate of deforestation due to high demand for timber), the ecological context (e.g. the range of ecosystem goods and services produced in a landscape), the history of agricultural and extractive land use, and the socio-economic and political situation (i.e. key sources of income from different groups, existing rules of resource tenure, migration patterns, etc.).

Vision and Planning

Visioning and planning are collaborative efforts to lay out a desired future and long-term design or roadmap for implementing ILM. Stakeholders negotiate and agree on ways to work together to address problems and their root causes, and to capture unrealized opportunities in the landscape. To make sure this all lands well, a continuous process of “sensing place” is needed, with field visits and spatial planning with all stakeholders. A key role for LP facilitators is to advance negotiations, informed by the agreed evidence base and shared analysis of barriers and opportunities, and ensuring that all stakeholders are heard despite power differences.

Taking Action

To effectively implement the cross-sector action plan requires proactive leadership by the LP to link desired actions with the financial and human resources required. Since some actions may not bear fruit for many years, weakening the impetus for expansion to scale, efforts are needed to sustain stakeholder attention and maintain momentum, as well as support to strengthen ties and commitments among stakeholders. Actions need to be tracked as they are planned and implemented, and coordination mechanisms may be needed to maximize synergies, mitigate tradeoffs and mediate conflict. Robust internal and external communication strategies and shared leadership are critical for advancing implementation and influencing enabling policy and market development.

Learning and Impact

ILM requires practical and transparent learning and impact monitoring systems to assess progress made in realizing the long-term vision and reaching the short-term goals of the LP. This requires assessing the multiple objectives of action plans against agreed indicators representing key dimensions of a landscape to determine holistic landscape-level impacts. Landscape-scale impact assessment supports ongoing learning about ways to maximize the effectiveness of different management interventions. Learning materials generated from continuous impact assessments contribute to the evidence required for strengthening or replicating landscape initiatives. They can demonstrate to policy makers and other actors how ILM can be more beneficial and cost-effective than conventional, sectoral approaches–key to scaling impact.

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