About Landscapes

What are Landscapes?

Landscapes are mosaics of natural and human-modified ecosystems. They provide multiple benefits, such as food, rural livelihoods and well-being, energy, fiber and building materials, medicines, ecosystem services and biodiversity.

In more formal publications we use the technical definition: “a landscape is a socio-ecological system that consists of natural and/or human-modified ecosystems, and which is influenced by distinct ecological, historical, economic and socio-cultural processes and activities.”

What is ecoagriculture?

Ecoagriculture refers to an approach to managing landscapes specifically to meet three goals simultaneously and sustainably (that is, to be able to continue meeting those goals indefinitely): conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, provide agricultural products, and support viable livelihoods for local people. The term “ecoagriculture” was coined in 2001 by Sara Scherr and Jeffrey McNeely, authors of the Future Harvest-commissioned report Common Ground, Common Future: How Ecoagriculture Can Help Feed the World and Save Wild Biodiversity.

A form of integrated landscape management

As a form of integrated landscape management, ecoagriculture affirms the value of supporting these benefits in a way that reinforces synergies. In the past, the goals of ecoagriculture were often perceived to be in conflict. But many integrated landscape initiatives practicing ecoagriculture have shown how conservation, agriculture and development can co-exist or even positively affect each other. This process requires collaboration or coordination between diverse stakeholders who are collectively responsible for managing key components of a landscape. We work to create tools and innovations that build capacity for this approach around the world.

The Little Sustainable Landscapes Book

In 2015, EcoAgriculture Partners’ and a small coalition of renowned conservation and sustainable agriculture organizations wrote a definitive document on integrated landscape management, framing the issues, providing the background and definitions, and identifying the critical catalysts. It’s glossary is an especially valuable resource for those seeking to better understand the terminology and the concepts that underpin landscape approaches.

Download the book