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Cultural Landscapes BlogBuilding Partnerships for Landscape Stewardship

Building Partnerships for Landscape Stewardship

23 Apr 2015 - 10:42/by Sara J. Scherr, Louise E. Buck/Tags: landscape stewardship, stakeholder engagement

A defining feature of integrated landscape management is long-term multi-stakeholder partnership among different groups of land managers and resource users. Agreeing on and sustaining good landscape stewardship at scale builds on effective partnerships at multiple levels. These ideas are not new, and thousands of landscape initiatives are underway today around the world based on multi-stakeholder partnership models. Methods and tools have been developed to support partners who come from very different perspectives to collaboratively assess their landscapes, negotiate priority objectives, design strategies and interventions, sustain partnership processes and monitor for adaptive management. Policymakers at national and international levels are beginning to recognize the value of landscape partnerships, with their focus on local development, social, environmental and cultural priorities, for shaping high-level strategies to achieve national goals and ensure we live within planetary ecosystem boundaries.
Building Partnerships for Landscape Stewardship

The broad principles of landscape partnerships are fairly well developed and widely agreed (Sayer, et al; Scherr et al, 2014; Kozar et al., 2014). The state of landscape multi-stakeholder partnerships today is that partners are involved primarily because they view partnerships as necessary to realizing their own goals, in the context of multiple legitimate claims on land and resources by different stakeholders.  But they are not particularly good at it. More than 80 different communities of practices have arisen to implement integrated landscape management from different entry points and with different philosophies, and there is much ‘reinventing the wheel’.  Most trainings and tools are still stakeholder-specific, rather than designed explicitly to engage different stakeholder perspectives. Professional education remains focused on specific disciplines. There are few pathways for professional development as landscape partnership facilitators. Even the most seemingly successful landscape initiatives self-identify major weaknesses in their capacities for collaborative decision-making, monitoring and impact assessment, cross-stakeholder communications and other specific skills.

If the rapid growth in landscape stewardship is to bear the fruit of its potential, we must become more serious about ensuring quality partnerships.  It is important to find ways to streamline learning in the core competencies of individuals and institutions to participate in and lead landscape initiatives. Professional education and trainings need to be reoriented to include roles in cross-stakeholder facilitation. To enable the full effectiveness and scaling up of landscape initiatives, new types of organizations operating beyond the landscape must learn to partner with landscape stewardship platforms, such as financial institutions and national-level public agencies. To address this exploding need for improved capacities for ILM, partners in the international Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative are setting up national ‘learning networks’ for landscape leaders in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Brazil and other countries; developing a ‘Landscape Academy’ (without walls) in Africa, and working with universities to strengthen curricula for ILM. National, regional and international cooperation in the development of such landscape partnership programs could greatly enhance landscape stewardship worldwide.



This blog contribution is part of a series on the science and practice of landscape stewardship and will be further elaborated in the course of a book chapter.
We are looking for real-world cases of good practices that exemplify the principles of landscape stewardship and that serve as a model to inspire implementation in other landscapes. Please share examples or thoughts by adding a comment!



Kozar, R., Buck, L.E., Barrow, E.G., Sunderland, T.C.H., Catacutan, D.E., Planicka, C., Hart, A.K., and L. Willemen (2014). Toward viable landscape governance systems: What works? Washington, DC: EcoAgriculture Partners on behalf of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative.

Sayer, J, T Sunderland, J Ghazoul, J Pfund, D Sheil, E Meijaard, M Venter, AK Boedhihartono, M Day, C Garcia, C van Oosten, and LE Buck (2013). Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses. PNAS 110(21): 8349-8356.

Scherr, S.J., Buck, L.E., Willemen. L. and Milder, J.C. (2014).  Ecoagriculture: Integrated landscape management for people, food and nature. Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, 3, 1-17.



Tell Us What You Think:

Brenda Barrett

21 Apr 2015 - 15:38

Your web site is of great interest, as I edit a web site and blog in the U.S. titled the "Living Landscape Observer"
that provides observations and information on the emerging fields of landscape scale conservation, heritage preservation, and sustainable community development.
The site also offers a monthly newsletter, which features lived in landscapes every month {sql_minus_minus}-usually managed by various partnership strategies. To review the case studies go to:

Finally, my colleague Nora Mitchell, University of Vermont, and I are researching and writing on agricultural and rural landscapes in the U.S. with a focus on the challenges presented by the management of these resources.. For some U.S. case studies see our chapter in New Cultural Landscapes.
Envisioning New Cultural Landscapes: Agricultural Traditions and Adaptations with Nora Mitchell, in New Cultural Landscapes, Routledge Press, London (2013)
For an overview of large landscape practice with a more conservation focus see:
Barrett, Brenda "Lessons in Large Landscape Management" in Ken Taylor, Archer St Clair Harvey, and Nora J. Mitchell (eds) Conserving Cultural Landscapes: Challenges and New Directions. London and New York: Routledge, 2015

Finally, I agree that as a field we need to view the management of landscapes as an important skill set and become serious about understanding the models that work, how transmit these skills and evaluating the outcomes.

Tobias Plieninger

23 Apr 2015 - 10:42

Thanks for sharing your comment, Brenda! It looks like your activities in the US are on a very similar line to what we are doing in Europe. It would be wonderful to link with your work. Best wishes, Tobias

The information and views set out in this Cultural Landscapes Blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the HERCULES project nor the European Commission.

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