Integrated landscape approaches

What are Integrated Landscape Approaches and how effectively have they been implemented in the tropics?

Lead reviewer: James Reed, Liz Deakin, Terry Sunderland (CIFOR)

Systematic review protocol: Environmental Evidence 2015, 4:2.

Systematic map: Global Change Ecology 2016, 22:7

Poverty, food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss continue to persist as the primary environmental and social challenges faced by the global community. As such, there is a growing acknowledgement that conventional sectorial approaches to addressing often inter-connected social, environmental, economic and political challenges are proving insufficient. An alternative is to focus on integrated solutions at landscape scales or ‘landscape approaches,’ defined as frameworks to integrate policy and practice for multiple competing land uses through the implementation of adaptive and integrated management systems. The appeal of landscape approaches has resulted in the production of a significant body of literature in recent decades, yet confusion over terminology, application and utility persists.

Focusing on the tropics, we systematically reviewed the literature to: (i) disentangle the historical development and theory behind the framework of the landscape approach and how it has progressed into its current iteration, (ii) establish lessons learned from previous land management strategies, (iii) determine the barriers that currently restrict implementation of the landscape approach and (iv) provide recommendations for how the landscape approach can contribute towards the fulfilment of the goals of international policy processes.

This review suggests that, despite some barriers to implementation, a landscape approach has considerable potential to meet social and environmental objectives at local scales while aiding national commitments to addressing ongoing global challenges. We identify the five key aspects of an effective landscape approach as follows:

  • Evaluating progress
  • Establishing good governance
  • Evolving from panacea solutions
  • Engaging multiple stakeholders
  • Embracing dynamic processes

Funding Partners