For inspiration : Facts and figures

About landscapes

An Integrated Landscape Approach to land management is broadly defined as a framework to integrate policy and practice for multiple land uses, within a given area, to ensure equitable and sustainable use of land while strengthening measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It also aims to balance competing demands on land through the implementation of adaptive management strategies.

Although primarily rooted in conservation and the science of landscape ecology, a landscape approach is multi-faceted [1] and seeks to address the increasingly complex and widespread environmental, social and political challenges that transcend traditional management boundaries. As such, it requires a multidisciplinary approach that engages stakeholders at a range of levels from local to national. In order to reflect the multi-faceted nature of landscapes and the diversity of landscape approaches, contest submissions portraying this complexity in an accessible manner will be given special attention.

What is a landscape?

Landscape = “A place with governance in place”

  1. A place: A landscape is a geographical area that can be of any size — from very small to very large.
  2. With governance in place: There exists institution(s) that will consider options for the landscape and set priorities. The formalization level of this governance can vary, from informal to formal.

Peter Holmgren, On Landscapes – Part 2: What are Landscapes.[2] See also: Part 1: Why are landscapes important?[3]


What is a landscape approach?

A landscape approach is essentially managing complex landscapes in an integrated fashion, in a holistic fashion, incorporating all the different land uses within those landscapes in a single management process

Key introductory materials: Some thought-starters

Statistics, facts and figures by thematic area

Once again, be creative in linking themes, disciplines, geographic areas, types of data and statistics– special attention will be given to submissions that look at integration of multiple perspectives, interdisciplinarity and take a holistic view.

The global landscape is constantly evolving – Trends and projections predict increasing pressure on landscapes around the world

However, the food crisis is already occurring now

In landscapes around the world, producing food via agriculture remains and increasingly is a central land-use

  • Each year, 13 billion hectares of forest area are lost due to land conversion for agricultural uses as pastures or cropland, for both food and livestock feed crop production. [14]
  • Changing diets and increasing demand for meat currently bring the area used for livestock grazing at 26% (of the Planet’s ice-free land), while 33% of croplands are used for livestock feed production. (Read more about livestock in landscapes in the FAO Livestock and Landscapes Factsheet[14])
  • The intensified animal density per area has led to 20% of the world grasslands to be in a degraded condition. [14]
  •  Although commercial, large-scale agriculture has taken an important place in food production systems, 40% of global food production still comes from diverse small-holder agricultural systems in multi-functional landscapes (read more on food systems and biodiversity by reading the outcome of an FAO-hosted expert workshop here[15]).
  • This multi-functionality of landscapes has notably been highlighted in the first global study by FAO and ICRAF of ‘trees outside forests’, which found that 46% of total agricultural land has at least 10% tree cover (access the full report here[16]).

Forest Landscapes provide crucial services to human well-being – but are facing pressures as well

  • Forests still cover a third of our planet’s land (find out more with the FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010 data [17]), covering an estimated 4 billion hectares in total (many more data can be accessed through the FAO’s data portal [18]l)…
  • however, about 60 000 km2 (an area roughly the size of Ireland) of primary forest continues to be lost, or modified by logging or other human interventions each year. [17]
  • This pressure is mostly a result of commercial agriculture, the most important driver of deforestation, followed by subsistence agriculture. Timber extraction and logging drives most of the degradation, followed by fuelwood collection and charcoal production, uncontrolled fire and livestock grazing. (read more inHosonuma et al., 2012, “An assessment of deforestation and forest degradation drivers in developing countries” [19])
  • Although forests can be sustainably managed via forest plantations, and the area covered by these is increasing, but makes up less than 5% of overall forest area. [19]

Productive landscapes: Landscapes are a key economic resource to hundreds of millions worldwide

  • An estimated 1.6 billion people use forests as sources of livelihoods and income (gathering building materials, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, honey and medicinal plants, harvesting wood, grazing livestock, hunting game…). Find more forest facts in the CPF Factsheets on sustainable forest management [20]and in the Agrawal et al. 2013 background document to a UNFCC meeting [21] addressing the economic contributions of forests.
  • Forests provide formal employment to 13.2 million people worldwide and a source of income in informal  systems to at least another 41 million (more in the Forests, Food Security and Nutrition – CIFOR Factsheet)
  • Overall, an estimated 20% of rural income is derived from the environment (see more in the Wunder et al. 2014 paper on Forests, Livelihoods and Conservation [22])
  • In addition to rural livelihoods, trade flows also reach deep into the forest: the global trade in wood and wood products was worth over US$ 200 billion in 2010 (more on wood trade flows in on the FAO websitepage on forest trade and marketing [23])

Beyond timber and income, forest landscapes are central to healthy diets in many parts of the world

  •  Although livestock breeding is increasingly a source of protein, wild harvested meat still provides 30-50% of protein intake for many rural communities (more on landscapes and bushmeat in R. Nasi and colleagues’ paper here. [24]) Also check out 10 things you didn’t know about bushmeat. [25])
  •   In absolute terms, data show that approximately 4.5 million tons of bush meat is extracted annually from the Congo Basin forests alone (read more about food security, nutrition and the role of landscapes in T. Sunderland et al.’s 2013 discussion paper. [26])
  • Keeping large and healthy forests contributes to environmental objectives, but also to food security and nutrition: for example, recent study found that there is a correlation between tree cover and the quality of nearby populations’ diets. See the publication by Ickowitz and colleagues: Dietary quality and tree cover in Africa. [27]
  • More key facts can be found in the “Forests, Food Security and Nutrition” a CIFOR Factsheet. For example, leaves, seeds, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, honey, insects and wild animals — are rich in micronutrients, even though they tend to contribute only a small amount of caloric energy. Forests are essential in provisioning these resources.

Millions depend on landscapes for their energy needs

  • Energy is a central part of the functioning of human societies, and landscapes are plentiful sources of energy that millions of people depend on. For example, electricity and heat can be obtained from plant residues and animal wastes, either by burning them directly, or by first producing biogas then burning it. These renewable energy sources usually produce less greenhouse gas emissions than other fuels. They can be effective, for instance in places not connected to the electric grid (more in the Synthesis Report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). [13]
  • Overall, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimated that more than 50% of the world’s population relied on solid fuels for cooking and heating (more to be found in the UNEP Millenium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Reports). [28]
  • Economically, these cannot be overlooked: Fuelwood and charcoal production are estimated to contribute to the income of 20% of Africa’s, while almost 800 million people globally use fuelwood to treat their water by boiling it (more to be found in the CIFOR Factsheet here[29]).
  • On the global scale, a grand total of 10% of all our energy comes from biomass (for more energy-related facts and figures, see for example the statistics of the International Energy Agency[30])


Landscapes are crucial for the availability and quality of one our most vital resource: water

  • Population pressure, alongside evolving lifestyles results in the expectation that global demand for water will grow by 40% by 2030 (find out more in the European Development Report 2013, [10] in the UN World Water Development Report[31]).
  • The amount on the planet to satisfy this growing demand can appear to be scarce: freshwater accounts for only 2.5% of the Earth’s water, and most of it is frozen in glaciers and icecaps. The remaining unfrozen freshwater is mainly found as groundwater, with only a small fraction present above ground or in the air. [31]
  • In addition to water for direct human consumption, landscapes such as wetlands – including swamps, bogs, marshes, and lagoons – cover 6% of the world’s land surface and play a key role in local ecosystems and water resources. [31] Indeed, wetlands provide natural infrastructure that can help meet a range of policy objectives. Beyond water availability and quality, they are invaluable in supporting climate change mitigation and adaption, support health as well as livelihoods, local development and poverty eradication. Read a detailed account of the numerous ecosystem services they provide in the report: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Water and Wetlands Report. [32]
  • Forest landscapes also play a crucial role in the provisioning and regulation of water: Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that supply an estimated 75% of usable water globally. Find more key facts in the CIFOR Factsheet on Forests and Water. [33]

Landscapes are natural infrastructures, providing numerous environmental and socio-economic benefits to societies, also known as ecosystem services

  • Forests and tree cover prevent land degradation and desertification by stabilizing soil, reducing water and wind erosion, and maintaining water and nutrient cycling in the soil.(Read more in this Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Factsheet[34])
  • Managing forests in a sustainable manner can lead to important poverty reduction benefits: the sustainable use of goods and services from forests and the development of agroforestry systems have the potential to contribute to poverty reduction, making the rural poor less vulnerable to the impacts of land degradation and desertification. [34]
  • However, at present, the loss of vegetation through deforestation and the resultant land degradation and desertification continue to cause biodiversity loss, and contribute to climate change by reducing carbon sequestration. [34]

Landscapes are key interfaces in the climate system, acting both as GHG sinks, and sources

  • As a source of greenhouse gases, deforestation and forest degradation cause an estimated 17.4% of global GHG emissions. [34]
  • However, the world’s existing forests are a large and persistent carbon sink, sequestering an estimated 0.4-2.4 Gt of carbon per year in the period 1990-2007, which was more than 7% of total annual GHG in 2004 (more on forests as carbon sinks in Pan et al.’s publication. [35])
  •  Overall, as shown by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 5th Asessment Report, land use sectors cause one third of our greenhouse gas emissions.[36]

Landscapes are the home to the world’s species and harbor the diversity of living beings – Landscapes and biodiversity

  • Forests harbor an estimated 75% of all terrestrial plant and animal species, the majority in tropical forests (find more facts on forest biodiversity with this CBD Press information [37]).
  • Beyond the intrinsic value of biodiversity, the diversity of living things is absolutely essential to ecosystems and to humans, including for their food security. On the topic, see for example: Food security: Why is biodiversity important?[38]
  • Biodiverse multi-functional landscapes are more resilient to extreme weather effects and can provide a “natural insurance policy against climate change” (read Greenpeace’s account of how forest biodiversity can help address food security and climate change, by Cotter and Tirado, 2008[39])
  • To find out about the global trends in world biodiversity, download the CBD Global Biodiversity Outlook 3. [40]

Landscapes approaches are about multi-stakeholder governance, and inclusivity of all groups especially traditionally marginalized ones. Many challenges and untapped opportunities remain to be addressed.

  • An estimated 60 million indigenous people who are almost wholly dependent on forests today and the 350 million people who live in or close to forests (more in the CBD’s forestry good practice guide, here). [41]
  •  For example, less than 2% of forest in Africa is legally owned or designated for use by forest communities or indigenous groups. This is a widespread problem. In Indonesia, for example, 33,000 villages are located inside the legally designated forest estate (all of which is owned by the state), arguably making them illegal. (Find our more with the CPF factsheet on sustainable forest management and indigenous peoples, accessible here[42])
  • Although women comprise up to 80% of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and 60% in Asia, ratios that are increasing due to male out-migration and moves towards off-farm sources of income, their access and control over land and resources is generally inferior to that of men in the same household or community (see the publication by Mathur, 2011, on women and food security).[43]
  • Better inclusion of women in landscape governance presents an opportunity to seize: enhanced women’s participation in decision-making committees in community forest institutions has been shown to improve forest governance and resource sustainability (find more detail in Bina Agarwarl’s publication- “Gender and forest conservation: The impact of women’s participation in community forest governance” . [44])
  • Further, it has been shown that women in forest communities derive half of their income from forests, while men derive only a third (more to be found in the FAO Gender and Agriculture Sourcebook here. [45])
  • Regarding scales of governance, research supports the idea that particular attention should be given to transferring power downwards, to the local level. Indeed, data on 80 forest commons in ten countries show that larger forest size and greater decision-making authority at the local level is associated with high carbon storage and livelihood benefits (view the publication: “Trade-offs and synergies between carbon storage and livelihood benefits from forest commons”[46] – find more publications and datasets on forest commons in developing countries through the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) website. [47])

Investing in landscapes amounts to investing in a better future

  • Investing in agriculture and agricultural research is important in order to achieve better productivity in landscapes. Currently, crop yields have fallen in many regions primarily due to declining investments in agricultural research, irrigation and infrastructure. For example, it is estimated that the lack of agricultural development investment has led to yield declines in Africa of ca.10% since 1960 (See Rosegrant and Cline’s paper about global food security challenges here[48], Read more about Africa’s untapped potential for global agriculture with a Worldwatch Institute blog post here. [49])
  • Global initiatives such as REDD+ are aiming to drive investment towards landscape-scale sustainable management of forests, but many efforts are still needed. Read more about Green Economy investments and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+)in the report by the UNEP-hosted International Resource Panel.
  • Multiple benefits can be achieved through investment in landscape restoration. For example, according to the Program on Forests (PROFOR), “Some tree-based investments could be improved upon to better deliver both profits and ecological benefits; for example, integrating high-value trees into tree crop systems” (View the complete document here: Investment in Landscape Restoration in Africa. [50])
  •  The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) also provides numerous Factsheets related to investment in sustainable landscapes. [51]

A multitude of policies and approaches fit under the umbrella of landscape approaches

  • Tree-Based Ecosystem Approaches (TBEAs) include a variety of land and forestry management systems and practices that combine trees with agricultural production, in pursuit of sustained or increased productivity, enhanced ecosystem services supply, and a stronger adaptive capacity for land managers. Access the in-depth publication by Willemen and colleagues here. [52]
  • For useful information about landscape/forest restoration projects and programs, see for example the WRI Blog Series: New perspectives on restoration. [53]
  •  Regarding the challenges and options for producing food near and in forests, have a look at the World Agroforestry Centre’s outputs and publications here[54].
  • The FAO Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook is a useful resource for information about climate-friendly farming policies and practice. [55]
  • Check out the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Water Policy briefsfor summaries of water management challenges and solutions. [56]
  • Valuable facts and figures can also be found with the Sustainable Forest Management factsheet collection from the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). [20]

Latin American landscapes embody key challenges at the interface of natural resources, society, and global issues

  • 21% of the Greater Amazonia region is under some form of mining concession or exploitation. The region generates 70% of the GDP of the 5 countries that share it. Simultaneously, the region is crucial to water security, a service valued in the billions of dollars. Read more in the landmark report, “Amazonia Security Agenda” [57]  and a digested versionon the ForestsClimateChange portal. [58]
  • Agribusiness, ranching, small-scale agriculture, commercial logging, traditional agro-extractive activities all compete for land and drive deforestation on the continent. Find an analysis of trends and challenges in thisCIFOR infobrief. [59]
  • Cross-sectorial issues are particularly present in the Latin American context. Many options exist to balance multiple and seemingly competing goals, as shown in the following publication: “Integrating Agricultural Landscapes with Biodiversity Conservation in the Mesoamerican Hotspot” [60]
  • Land use in Latin America is in part driven by the large scale dynamics of globalization. Therefore, some researchers content that “Land-use efficiency should be analyzed beyond the local-based paradigm that drives most conservation programs, and focus on large geographic scales involving long-distance fluxes of products, information, and people in order to maximize both agricultural production and the conservation of environmental servicesRead the complete publicationhere. [61]
  • Over 550 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands in Latin America offer opportunities for restoration, according to the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration – find out more here. [62]
  • How successful are landscape approaches in the LAC region? Find out with the following publication: “Integrated landscape management for agriculture, rural livelihoods, and ecosystem conservation: An assessment of experience from Latin America and the Caribbean” [63]
  • For more resources on Latin American landscapes, check out CATIE’s website (including publications in Spanish) [64]

Other landscape resources and datasets

In addition to the references provided in the previous section, the following resources and datasets could be useful to find compelling facts and figures about landscapes and landscape approaches.

Please note that this list is indicative – we strongly encourage participants to draw upon (a) multiple disciplines, areas of work, sectoral information and sources featured here, and (b) facts, figures and data not included on this page.

You can use, Zanran, a search engine designed to find data and statistics, is an effective tool to research more statistics and datasets.

Global Landscapes Forum Partner resources

Other sources of data


Click here to download the full list of cited references.