A landscape or area, provides various products and services (ecosystem services) for humans, animals and plants. IUCN NL brings users in this area together so they can collectively ensure sustainable land and water use, today and in the future.

What is the landscape approach?

In the landscape approach the interests of the different stakeholders in a landscape are assessed in an integral manner and aligned through dialogue. The landscape approach works on sustainable landscape management while considering the full socio-economic context in an area.  In this we also consider international economic pressures and opportunities related to value chains such as soy, palm oil, farm-animals, metals and financial flows.

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Different users, conflicting interests

Public authorities, businesses and local communities each have an interest in a landscape. These interests often differ and sometimes clash, also when considering the capacity and intrinsic values of nature. In a river’s catchment area, for example, it is the public authorities’ task to supply a city with clean drinking water, while the farming industry needs water to cultivate crops on a large scale and the local population is often directly dependent on a water source to fulfil everyday needs, such as growing food, cooking and washing. Questions that the landscape approach can address are, how all stakeholder contribute to conservation of the water catchment area and how much water can each stakeholder use.

‘Biodiversity is the foundation of an ecosystem’s stability as the diversity of species creates resilience for a wide variety of livelihoods and (climatic) events. Nature can continue to provide its important ecosystem services in a sustainable landscape in which biodiversity is conserved. Therefore, nature serves as our starting point for integral landscape management.’

Sander van Andel – Senior Expert Nature Conservation

What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystems in a landscape provide a number of important services to people, such as supplying water, food and climate resilience. These services are called ecosystem services. Forests provide us with wood, help combat climate change and retain water in the soil. Many animal and plant species also rely on the landscape for their food, access to water or as a transit route.

Defending the interests of local communities

To keep ecosystems healthy and functioning we must find a balance between economic, ecological and social values. In many countries (grass-root) civil society organisations, which defend the interests of local communities and nature, are insufficiently involved in decision-making processes related to a landscape. IUCN NL works with them to expand their knowledge, network and skills to acquire a greater say in processes related to managing nature and the services provided by the ecosystem.

How does the local population acquire a say in landscape management?

In many countries local communities are hardly involved in decision-making processes related to a landscape, such as developments concerning the construction of infrastructure, large scale agriculture or mining. However, they possess a great deal of knowledge about the landscape and nature and have a major interest in keeping ecosystems in the area healthy for themselves and the generations that will follow. How does the local population acquire a say in landscape management?