GPFLR Learning Network

Discussion Platform Forest Landscape Restoration

FLR Principles

Introduction to the principles of an adaptive landscape approach


Who took the initiative to develop guidelines and principles?

A group of individuals from CIFOR, IUCN, InterCooperation, the Joint Biodiversity Platform, ICRAF, FFPRI, and EcoAgriculture Partners jointly developed a set of principles for an adaptive landscape approach. Since several of these individuals are member of our network, they decided to make their work available to the network members, not only for members to learn, but also for the group to get feedback through our discussions.

It is hoped that the set of principles provide a useful framework to support decentralized landscape management. Not to be taken as a globally applicable blueprint, but as a useful guidance for practitioners to help them through the often complex realities of landscape assessment,  adaptive management, stakeholder engagement and policy frameworks.

Why do they want your input?

The principles as how they are presented here, are NOT a final product. They are to be discussed and commented by you, being practitioners, managers, teachers and policy makers, active in the field. Therefore, the authors would highly appreciate your contributions to critically assess the principles, and value their applicability. Moreover, they would love to see real-life examples, and examples of tools and instruments applied in the field.

The principles will be finalised on the basis of your comments and inputs, and presented as a validated framework. Then, the authors and their field partners plan to work on the development of various and more applied “menus of options”, or decision-support tools, that would allow conservation and development agencies and practitioners to fix priorities for interventions to promote enabling conditions necessary to provide for the effective management  of socioeconomically and ecologically resilient landscapes.

Why do we need a landscape approach?

The increasing concerns for the need for nature conservation during the latter part of the 20th century led to many approaches and interventions designed to protect biodiversity and related ecosystem services. Experiences have shown that it is important to create possible synergies between conservation objectives and economic interests and minimize conflicts over conflicting interests. This will only work if we look at a landscape level, embracing “the complex relationships between the living communities and their environment”. Landscapes include the physical and biological features of an area together with the institutions and people (local and external) who influence and/or are part of the area and its cultural and spiritual values (Farina 2006).  A landscape approach integrates ecological patterns and processes with socio-economic and institutional dynamics in defined geographical areas. On the one hand, it is based on specific ecosystem and land management practices, while on the other, it is linked to policies at multiple scales which impact on the landscape, and includes social learning processes. An understanding of all these patterns and processes, their interactions and the factors which influence them need to be incorporated in the design of strategies aimed at promoting better governance and balancing nature conservation and sustainable socio-economic development (including nature’s service functions).  

An overview of all the principles and guidelines can be found here.


Principle 1: Continual learning and adaptive management

A sound understanding of the social dynamics of the landscape and the ecological interactions of the multiple resources it contains is a necessary basis for negotiating, implementing and monitoring landscape management. But learning about these landscape dynamics is not a one-time requirement. Activities have to be adapted both to evolving or new negotiated objectives as well as to render the achievement of existing objectives more efficiently. The generation, sharing and management of information on landscape processes, changes and potentials are essential for a landscape approach.

Lessons learned from the erupted Mount Merapi area in Indonesia

Tools for landscape assessment 

Continuous learning and adaptive management 

Participatory land and resource mapping in Namibia


Principle 2: Common concern entry-point principle

The entry point for an intervention should be people orientated. It is crucial , to be a motivating factor, that the choice of the entry point intervention is perceived by key stakeholders to be promising in terms of addressing common concerns concretely and in the short term. It can be a tentative or trial activity which it is anticipated will also provide valuable information pertinent to the other principles, and in particular encourage confidence and interest in stakeholders to address other related issues of common concern which may be more sensitive.

Ex-mining land management in Indonesia and Sweden compared 

Share your experiences


Principle 3: Multiple scale

Stakeholders must pay close attention to the multiple scales at which ecological dynamics and socio-economic activity in a landscape originate, evolve and interact. This is essential for developing sound governance systems and management strategies that are coordinated across different scales and issues as well as different political and administrative entities.

Landscape reading as a tool for multiple scale landscape analysis

Transboundary landscape management


Principle 4: Multi-functionality

To support social and ecological objectives, landscapes must be deliberately managed for ‘multi-functionality’ to generate multiple outputs in a sustainable manner with least trade-off costs and where possible maximised synergies.


Experiences with multi-functionality

Tools for managing a multi-functional landscape


Principle 5: Multistakeholder principle

Landscape-scale management requires engagement from a representative set of stakeholders, and negotiation towards a workable level of agreement among them about goals concerning issues and resources of common concern from the landscape and ways of reaching them. Developing a stakeholder platform requires a patient iterative process of identifying stakeholders, their interests, building trust, empowering weak stakeholders and for powerful stakeholders to accept new rights and roles for other stakeholders.

Tools for facilitating multi-stakeholder processes 

AFED's experiences with multi-stakeholder learning in Eastern Congo


Principle 6: Negotiated and transparent change logic

Negotiated change must be built on an agreed vision through building trust and setting priorities in a collaborative and transparent manner. Even if the logic of change models generally requires coping with a certain level of uncertainty, it must be clearly discussed and described how changes are expected to take place and what these are likely to be in order to adapt them if needed. A transparent logic of intervention should include underlying assumptions and expected pathways from interventions to develop and negotiate new directions.

Power in the landscape

Negotiation and mediation techniques for NRM


Principle 7: Clarification of rights and responsibilities

Access and rights to resources of different stakeholders need to be locally clarified, especially for local and indigenous populations. Realistically, this does not necessarily involve formal/legal changes of tenure but the development of negotiated working institutional arrangements. These may be policy experiments which may lead to future legislative change. In relation to rights, the respective responsibilities of all stakeholders must be equitably agreed upon.

Rights and responsibilities in the landscape 

Rights based approach to programming


Principle 8: Participatory and user-friendly monitoring principle

Participatory monitoring and evaluation of landscape changes and interventions should be designed to generate the information which is necessary for stakeholders to collaboratively assess and adapt their planned interventions to evolving needs, objectives, opinions and circumstances.

Participatory modelling: who wins, who loses?

Participatory video for monitoring


Principle 9: Resilience

The resilience of landscapes, i.e. the capacity of their ecological and livelihood systems to absorb disturbances, must be maintained or improved so that these ecological and social systems can reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same functions, structure, identity and feedbacks.

Resilient landscapes

Tools and examples


Principle 10: Strengthened stakeholder capability principle

Sustainable, resilient and multi-functional landscapes require that stakeholders develop the capability to manage both processes which are increasingly complex and lands which are often under growing pressure. Constraints lie in increased need for collaboration between landscape stakeholders over resources of common concern, in changes in policy framework conditions and in the globalisation of interest from external stakeholders on some of their landscape’s resources (e.g. REDD and carbon sequestration, water flows ).

Forest Landscape Restoration and the issue of REDD

Stay in touch with the climate negotiations in Cancun 


Wrap up of the principles and guidelines discussion

Looking back at the second online event "Principles of an adaptive landscape approach"

Looking forward to 2011: what topics do you propose?


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