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Landscapes and the landscapes approach

What is a landscapes approach?

Farms, forests, water bodies and settlements are not isolated elements, but part of a wider landscape in which all land uses are integrated. A landscapes approach entails viewing and managing multiple land uses in an integrated manner, considering both the natural environment and the human systems that depend on it.

The landscapes approach allows stakeholders to identify policy options, investment opportunities and research priorities by:

  • Integrating policies across sectors and understanding how land-use choices in one area affect other areas
  • Negotiating competing demands for land uses in a given landscape
  • Assessing all factors that affect land uses, whether at local, national, regional and global levels
  • Recognizing changes in landscapes, as migration, urbanization, external shocks, and production and consumption patterns shape decisions on land use
  • Valuing the role of all the people in the landscape and studying how groups benefit differently from land uses.
  • Leveraging private and public capital for sustainable development in the landscape.

Landscapes and the landscapes approach

Landscapes are geographical constructs that include not only the biophysical features but also cultural and institutional attributes of an area. They can be managed with varying degrees of intensity and undergo transitions over time.

The landscapes approach provides a broad framework that can fully integrate agriculture, forestry and other land uses into a sustainable development agenda. It seeks to assess performance against broader development goals such as poverty eradication, green growth, food security and nutrition, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, energy efficient cities, and sustainable land use and farm practices.


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