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On ‘whole landscape’ approaches benefiting people, food and nature

In the first half of the 21st century, rising human demands for food, water, energy and land will collide on a global scale unless bold and creative action is taken now. Over the past few decades, numerous groups seeking to address the challenges of food production, ecosystem management and rural development have reached across traditional sectoral boundaries in search of partnerships to solve what are clearly inter-connected problems. Their work reflects a ‘whole landscape’ approachthat seeks to meet the full range of needs from the land and resource base. They have created coalitions of diverse stakeholders to negotiate more acceptable trade-offs and pursue newly discovered synergies. The power of this approach has begun to attract the attention of national and global policymakers. Five years ago the term ‘landscape’ was rarely seen in policy and program documents. Today it is ubiquitous, as more and more rural communities and organizations despair of narrowly sectoral programs.

The objective of this paper

Landscapes for People, Food and Nature: The Vision, the Evidence, and Next Steps, published by the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, June 2012

is to provide evidence on the rationale, prevalence and effectiveness of integrated landscape initiatives. The paper first explains the inter-connected challenges of providing for diverse values of our land and water resources, and the imperative for coordinated management. We then present the integrated landscape approach and its potential value for local people and to meet global needs, then outline key elements comprising the approach. The third section summarizes evidence on the current scope of landscape initiatives and illustrates their positive impacts in diverse contexts. The final section outlines how to overcome the barriers to scaling up these landscape initiatives.

This paper was written by Sara J. Scherr, Jeffrey Milder, and Louise Buck of EcoAgriculture Partners.