Landscape approach has recently become a prominent analytical and practical tool for natural resource management. It is claimed that this approach can offer a framework for addressing competing social and economic demands for food, fiber, fuel and water without compromising environmental concerns. However, it is still debated what is a “landscape” as a unit for analysis, management and governance.
Rapid land use change is the main driver of shifts happening in rural areas. Evoking transformational change without jeopardizing natural resilience is, perhaps, the greatest puzzle of the current and the future rural development. Landscape approach requires integrated interdisciplinary decision-making, and practitioners note that governance related issues as well as lack of institutional capacity are the most challenging for its implementation.
Decision-making seldom happens on a landscape level. Additionally, it is often hard to outline and match natural landscapes with institutions and socio-political settings. Numerous attempts to secure consensus around, for instance, major tropical land conversion projects revealed that reaching a broad agreement among many actors is very challenging.
What are pros and cons of the landscape approach in practice? How can it help to meet the future competing demands for food, fiber, fuel and water in low-income countries? How landscape approach differs from the more traditional sectorial and project-based approaches? How to outline and match natural landscapes with institutions? These are some of the questions on the agenda.