Publication Details

Defining Integrated Landscape Management for Policy Makers

Ecoagriculture Policy Focus No. 10



October 1, 2013

Short Summary

This brief lays out and explains the five critical elements of integrated landscape management, particularly where agriculture is an important land use, and illustrates the importance and background of the approach.


Integrated landscape management (ILM) is an increasingly popular approach to addressing development, climate change, food security and a host of other global issues.

Everyone’s talking about landscapes

Even five years ago the term “landscape” was rarely used within the agricultural and rural development communities. Today, the term, and the management and policy approaches underlying it, are beginning to gain prominence as the limits of narrowly sectoral approaches become more apparent in our interconnected, crowded, resource-constrained and climate-chaotic world.

Defining Integrated Landscape Management

A landscape is a socio-ecological 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 the ecological, historical, economic and cultural processes and activities of the area. Integrated landscape management refers to long-term collaboration among different groups of land managers and stakeholders to achieve the multiple objectives required from the landscape.

The 5 Elements

The five critical elements of integrated landscape management, particularly where agriculture is an important land use:

  1. Shared or agreed management objectives that encompass multiple benefits (the full range of goods and services needed) from the landscape.
  2. Field, farm and forest practices are designed to contribute to multiple objectives, including human well-being, food and fiber production, climate change mitigation, and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  3. Ecological, social, and economic interactions among different parts of the landscape are managed to realize positive synergies among interests and actors or to mitigate negative trade-offs.
  4. Collaborative, community-engaged processes for dialogue, planning, negotiating and monitoring decisions are in place.
  5. Markets and public policies are shaped to achieve the diverse set of landscape objectives and institutional requirements.

Common cause between diverse systems

Agreement on a single ‘best’ approach to integrated landscape management is neither likely nor desirable. Efforts to bring diverse actors together will be critical to improving communication, innovation and ultimately successful landscape management throughout the world.


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