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Operationalizing the integrated landscape approach in practice

Olivia E Freeman, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Lalisa A Duguma, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Peter A Minang, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)


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The terms “landscape” and “landscape approach” have been increasingly applied within the international environmental realm, with many international organizations and nongovernmental organizations using landscapes as an area of focus for addressing multiple objectives, usually related to both environmental and social goals. However, despite a wealth of literature on landscapes and landscape approaches, ideas relating to landscape approaches are diverse and often vague, resulting in ambiguous use of the terms. Our aim, therefore, was to examine some of the main characteristics of different landscape approaches, focusing on how these might be applied in
the process of taking a landscape approach. Drawing on a review of the literature, we identify and discuss three different kinds of landscape approaches: using the landscape scale, a sectoral landscape approach, and an integrated landscape approach. Focusing on an integrated landscape approach, we examine five concepts to help characterize landscape approaches: multifunctionality, transdisciplinarity, participation, complexity, and sustainability. For each term, a continuum of application exists. To help improve and move the integrated landscape approach more toward operationalization, more focus needs to be placed on the process of taking the approach. Although the process can be implemented in a range of ways, in a more integrated approach it will require explicitly defined objectives as well as a clear understanding of what is meant by multifunctionality and sustainability. It will also require collaborative participation, transdisciplinarity/cross-sectoral approaches, managing for adaptive capacity, and applying an iterative process to address the inherent complexity within the system. Although these concepts are not new, we present continuums on which they can exist, allowing for clarification and distinctions to be made regarding what it means to take a landscape approach.

Key words

adaptive capacity; complex social-ecological systems; integrated landscape approach; multifunctionality; participation; sustainability; transdisciplinarity

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087