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The village of Nalma, Nepal, lies in the hills, stretching on one side toward the Himalayas.
Much of the available land is used for rice fields, gardens or housing. Photo by M.

Several important trends, such as increasing populations, changing diets and a need for environmental preservation, have led to increased competition for land and land uses, given limited land resources. Amid this competition, economic dimensions have often dominated over environmental and social aspects, short-term outlooks over long-term, and global perspectives over local.

This research theme aims to understand the drivers of land-use changes, their dynamics, their consequences, as well as how decisions can be made regarding the role of forests and trees in the landscape, their distribution and types (species, modes of management). It also examines how these can help achieve multiple objectives (production, nutrition, ecosystem services) within a landscape, and what tools and institutions are needed to facilitate such decisions and enable their implementation, given the various perspectives and interests of numerous and diverse actors.

FTA provides guidelines and tools (such as producer support programs, environmental and social responsibility guidelines, tools to guide investments, multi-stakeholder dialogues, vertical and horizontal integrations) that can be used to facilitate a multi-functional landscape approach. Such an approach deals with natural processes and human controls, such as natural resources management (NRM) and land tenure, in an integrated and multidisciplinary manner, combining a wide range of environmental factors (e.g. watershed health, biodiversity conservation and habitat connectivity), economic factors (value chain dynamics), and social conditions and objectives with institutional and policy considerations.

Thus, this research theme coordinates internally with FTA’s work on sustainable value chains at the meso level, jointly addressing trade-offs and synergies relating to commodities, trade and enterprise. The theme also partners with the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) as well as the Future Earth and the Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Regarding climate change, mitigation and adaptation objectives have largely been pursued separately. A landscape approach can enable integration and synergy between the two and thus enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of NRM. FTA provides a menu of practices associated with various systems and successful case
studies, where multi-functionality of landscapes provide mitigation, adaptation, development and conservation benefits. In this respect, the research theme links with FTA’s work on climate change, exploring aspects of climate smart landscapes as well as the linkages between agriculture and forests in the context of reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and nationally determined contributions as they link to green economies. Collaboration also occurs between this research theme, FTA’s climate change work, and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

What is a landscape?
A landscape is a socioecological system that consists of a mosaic of natural and/or human-modified ecosystems, with a characteristic configuration of topography, vegetation, land use and settlements that is influenced by ecological, historical, economic, institutional and cultural conditions. It is therefore at the landscape level that key interactions among biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional factors occur and can be observed. A landscape is therefore a spatial unit where economic activities, natural resources, ecosystem services and their economic and social use can be considered together.

What is the landscape approach?
As it relates to natural ecosystems, agriculture, forestry, energy, water, industry, transport, cities, related infrastructure and other land uses, and to the livelihoods they sustain, the landscape approach brings together stakeholders to transcend, within a landscape and across scales, traditional management, policy and governance boundaries. It provides concepts, tools and institutional solutions for stakeholders to identify, understand and address the complex set of interlinked environmental, social and economic challenges. It fosters evidence-based and inclusive prioritization, decision-making and implementation. It promotes integration between policy domains and integration of policies and practices.

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