sustainable development

Climate-smart landscapes: Lessons from the gestion de terroirs approach

By Florence Bernard

Climate-smart landscapes are an emerging concept that captures integration of actions and processes in a Participatory community meeting, Niger. Photo credit:Mahamane Larwanougiven place. This integration is geared towards reducing emissions and enhancing ability to cope with already existing negative effects of climate change while at the same time pursuing multiple social, economic and environmental objectives.

In the past, integrated management initiatives have shared similar ambition and provide lessons for implementation.

In a chapter of a new book titled Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, we study the example of gestion de terroirs (GT), which was an integrated management approach applied in French speaking African countries in the 1990’s.

The GT approach was meant to advance goals related to food production, ecosystem conservation and rural livelihoods on a socially and geographically defined space – the so-called ‘terroir’. It shared a number of similar features with climate-smart landscapes in terms of being a multisectoral, multidisciplinary and multistakeholder approach.

A number of key limitations, challenges and experiences from the GT approach offer lessons for the climate-smart landscape approach.

One limitation of the GT approach was that the geographical area was identified almost exclusively in relation with the practice of agriculture, ignoring other important livelihoods such as pastoralism. A key lesson here is that it should not be assumed that community interests are uniform at the expense of complex social, economic and cultural factors that affect how local communities can sustainably use natural resources.

Both the GT and climate-smart landscapes approaches use a bottom-up management style and are community-driven, so multi-stakeholder planning is a key element. However, experiences with the GT implementation have at times not achieved proper balance in participation between the local communities, project staff and government agency representatives, with local communities being overlooked in technical debates. Another weakness was lack of balance of interests among stakeholders in the local community due as GT committees seemed to be dominated by local elites to the exclusion of the poorest and most marginalized rural populations. According to the study, in order to avoid such pitfalls, both composition and method of inclusion need to be considered with caution to ensure effective representation of all stakeholder groups.

Additionally, effective decentralized governance over land resources is described as a central feature of the GT approach. However, since the legislation never conferred legal right to community-based institutions to exercise public authority over their resources, there has been a huge gap between theory and the reality. As such, if decentralized governance is to happen within climate-smart landscape approaches, there will first need to be clear policies outlining who has the authority to make decisions on resources as well as more reflection on how to transfer authority from central government authorities to local government staff, and from government structures to local populations.

Another issue that GT implementation shed light on, was that attempts for clarifying rights and resource tenure have sometimes exacerbated existing or latent land-use conflicts, the concept of ‘terroir’ being sometimes misinterpreted as ‘for locals only’ and instrumentalized to exclude others in the name of local heritage. To avoid this challenge, there is need for very carefully negotiated processes and a legitimate conflict resolution and recourse system that is supported by an improved justice system, accessible courts, and devolved conciliation powers to local authorities or customary chiefs.

Last but not least, while most GT programmes took place in a policy and institutional vacuum resulting in very limited impact on influencing wider institutional and policy issues, there is need for acknowledging climate-smart landscape approaches within national decision-making processes. Sustainability of the climate-smart landscape approach will require supportive policies at multiple scales.

The study is a book chapter in a book titled Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice which can be accessed here.

Bernard, F. (2015). What can climate-smart agricultural landscapes learn from the gestion de terroirs approach? In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 51-61. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).




New book on Climate Smart Landscapes: Key Messages

Book Launch

Climate Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

SATURDAY, 6 DECEMBER 2014, 12.15 -13.00

Where: Global Landscape Forum 2014 - The Westin Lima Hotel


#ThinkLandscape  #GLFCOP20 #COP20


Book Key messages

1. Landscapes are shaped by people with different preferences, interests, knowledge and power. Therefore, democratic processes that allow negotiations and fair representation are the best way to achieve changes that will be sustainable

In this book, we describe Negotiation Support Tools such as the Land Use planning for Low Emission Development Strategy (LUWES) which is currently being implemented in all provinces in Indonesia (see Book Chapter 17)

2. Current landscape approaches and practices are not effective in meeting the complexity of developmental, environmental and social challenges.

The book expounds on management processes such as the adaptive collaborative management process that engages with all stakeholders in a ‘learn by doing’ systematic approach.

Overall, the book expounds on a system process approach to implementation of a Landscape approach involving planning, implementation (actions and practice), institutions (policy, knowledge), monitoring, evaluation and audit. See summary guide Table 27.1 on how each chapter describes application of the different steps

3. Landscape approaches need to be grounded in local realities of place (referred to in this book as “Theory of place”) and the ambitions or expected change of the people (referred to in this book as “Theory of change”) – see Book Chapter 26. Building on and protecting existing local resilience of landscapes is important, as climate variability is increasing and climate change effect is felt strongly.  

4. Nesting landscapes to national and global policy platforms such as green growth, MDG / SDG implementation, low emissions development strategies, NAMAs and decision-making (jurisdictional levels) is an important dimension for success.

The CSL book describes a set of good governance and landscape democracy-based dimensions, criteria and indicators. Key dimensions include legitimacy, participation, empowerment, ownership of knowledge and process, respect for local people and indigenous local knowledge, equity and effectiveness and competence – see Book Chapter 27


5. Further developing public-private partnerships within landscape approaches is imperative. Incorporating a business case perspective, accompanied by feasible institutional frameworks in landscape approaches will create space for private sector investments, know-how and efficiency.

Book Chapter 21 describes the case of Sasumua reservoir in Kenya that provides 20% water to Nairobi, the capital city. A business case for payment of ecosystem services was identified between the city water company (NWCS) and upland farmers in Sasumua (about $122,924/year Net Present Value). However, this could not be implemented because NWCS already pays watershed management fees to the Water Resource Management Authority. Also, a section of consumers in Nairobi were willing to pay alittle more in their water bill to finance watershed conservation but only the water services regulatory board has the mandate to increase tariffs and not the NWSC)


6. The evidence-base from landscape analysis is critical for facilitating negotiations (trade-offs) and forging synergies between stakeholder perspectives, ambitions and functions in achieving sustainable multifunctional landscapes. Therefore practitioners need to pay attention to both analysis and facilitation of processes in striving to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

For instance, applying landscape approach to climate change efforts would mean creating synergies between mitigation and adaptation in their functions, institutions and resources. The current approach to the two interventions as separate streams has been challenged with ineffectiveness and inefficiency as different institutions work towards the same goals while competing with each other


7. Landscape approaches can greatly benefit from global policy support. Increasing opportunities for landscape approaches to climate, environmental and development challenges are emerging in the global policy arena with examples such as the CBD, the European Landscape convention and in discussions on Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry (in the CDM context) and on synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation within the UNFCCC.


Landscape democracy to capture complexity



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Managing landscapes effectively in the face of climate change means untangling a host of complications

Today, scientists are looking at the world in terms of landscapes, which are units of the environment with some common theme. It is no good studying a lake unless the forest above it that supplies water is considered, along with the people that fish in the lake and use its water for agriculture. Landscapes can be small, like a valley, or enormous, like the Serengeti plains. But even the simplest landscape can have many different populations, uses and values, all of which might be competing with each other.

How can all these needs be satisfied, while conserving the landscape for the future? A book entitled ‘Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice’ which will be launched by the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, on the fringes of the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, Peru on 7 December, goes some way towards answering the question.

To feed a projected population of more than 9 billion by 2050, food production must grow by more than 50 percent. Growing competition over fixed land resources means that economically attractive land uses triumph over those that are more valuable from a society perspective, but less profitable for a private land user.

Landscapes in the tropics and subtropics are at the heart of this competition for land, partly because they have the highest population growth as well as increases in agricultural land. As a result, planning of land use can no longer be the business of single interests, but needs to involve all interested parties. Hence, the increasing requirement for an approach to the landscape that will satisfy everyone’s needs yet maintain the different functions going on in the landscape while conserving it for the future, that is, making it sustainable.

This is already a complicated challenge. Traditionally, scientists would address a complex problem by breaking it down into its component parts and addressing them one at a time. This does not work in a landscape, which typically has any number of stakeholders with different perspectives, interests, power and ambitions, which can often be conflicting. “Multifunctionality’ in a landscape is about seeking to achieve many different objectives at the same time,” said Peter Minang, one of the editors of the book and Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. “Planning land use can no longer be the business of single interests, but needs to involve all interested parties. Hence the increasing requirement for a landscape approach.”

Complicating this situation even further is the problem of climate change. Agriculture produces a lot of ‘greenhouse’ gases that speed up climate change. There is a worldwide movement now to create ‘climate-smart’ agriculture, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gases produced yet still allows farmers to grow food and make a profit, while preparing for the effects that climate change might have on them, like rising temperatures that increase diseases in their crops.

“Sustainable multifunctional landscapes is a common destination that can be reached from many possible starting points,” said Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre. Once the wider range of options and perspectives are understood, it is possible to influence the various tradeoffs between functions and stakeholders in different and potentially better ways.”

“In the tea-growing landscape of Kericho in Kenya, governmental bodies, farmer and community organizations, and private sector tea producers, have come together to define key investments for a climate-smart landscape,” said Jeffrey C. Milder, the Rainforest Alliance’s lead scientist and chief advisor for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. “This process identified landscape planning and coordination as among the most strategic opportunities, requiring modest investment while aligning existing activities across the landscape to improve tea productivity, watershed health, and biodiversity.”

“Despite evolving institutions governing land and trees in Cameroon, disputes over land and forest rights have grown rather than diminished, leading to changing land use patterns and in some cases increasing land degradation,” said Divine Foundjem-Tita, a marketing scientist based at the World Agroforestry Centre’s Yaounde office. “The main message in this case study is that formal, informal or hybrid institutions are indispensable features in landscapes, and are crucial to landscape management, as they shape the patterns and functions of landscapes.”

“For current landscapes to move towards their full potential, all the interested parties have to agree on a vision for change,” summed up Peter Minang. “This democratic approach will allow climate-smart landscapes to contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.”


The book, Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multi-functionality in Practice will be launched on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima, Peru during the Global Landscapes Forum on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 12.15pm, MEDIA ROOM


About the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) 

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a leading, international science-based research and development institution in the tropics, and a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).  For 30 years, the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners have worked with poor rural farmers throughout the tropics to develop innovative agroforestry-based practices that help them manage their limited resources.  The Centre’s vision is the transformation of lives and landscapes across the developing world through massive use of trees and agroforestry innovations. Its mission is to generate science-based knowledge about the diverse role trees play in agricultural landscapes and use its research to advance policies and practices to benefit the poor and the environment. For more information, go to or follow ICRAF on Twitter @ICRAF 


Landscape approach discussions at Rio +20

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