Governance Lessons for the Landscape Approach

Six key governance factors identified from more than 20 years of global Model Forest experience
 
There is increasing international agreement that the landscape approach is the most effective method of incorporating conservation and human development dimensions into land-use planning and the broader sustainable development agenda. A landscape approach means taking both a geographical / biophysical and socio-economic approach to managing the land, water and natural resources to enhance and balance ecosystem conservation and sustainable livelihoods. Rather than considering various core elements on the landscape (land, water, natural resources, etc.) in isolation, the landscape approach focuses on taking into account the interactions between the elements and the various ecosystem services they produce to maximize productivity, improve livelihoods, increase food security and adaptation to climate change and reduce potential negative environmental impacts.
Landscapes are abstract concepts which spatial boundaries and scale differ according to the stakeholders and their values, so participative multi-stakeholder governance is a key aspect. For more than 20 years, the International Model Forest Network (IMFN) has been implementing participatory, landscape-level approaches to the sustainable management of natural resources. IMFN is a voluntary global community of practice comprised of more than 60 Model Forests that cover 100 million hectares (ha) in 30 countries and continues to expand. Six key governance factors have been identified from more than 20 years of Model Forest experience.
 
     Effective landscape solutions need broad partnerships and collaborative governance
     Good governance requires responsible resource managers
     Voluntary engagement creates stronger governance
     Building capacity leads to enhanced engagement and empowerment
     Managing competing interests and values
     A landscape approach is a process, not a project
 
The approach enhances an understanding of environmental impacts and assists stakeholders in making informed decisions in a transparent, adaptive and resilient manner. Such an approach helps to identify important ecological and socio-economic value for stakeholders and patterns of environmental change that may not be evident on smaller, local land areas. Activities undertaken through a landscape approach might involve restoration of degraded areas, enhancing productivity and production, integrating different management systems and values on the landscape, watershed management, and, importantly, integrating local communities and stakeholders into decision-making processes.
 
The Model Forest concept links high-level policy objectives of sustainable landscape management to local-level processes and tools that are anchored in inclusive, locally based governance mechanisms. This creates a framework for landscape management that is comprehensive in its approach, scalable in its operation and effective in the breadth and depth of the activities undertaken. This can help local stakeholders address a wide range of challenges and allow them take advantage of emerging opportunities such as REDD+, forest landscape restoration, climate change adaptation, improving food security and creation of a green economy.