Negotiation-support toolkit for learning landscapes

Governments and communities are finding it easier to work together to create a sustainable, climate-friendly Southeast Asia thanks to a suite of ‘tools’ that support negotiations over land use, says Robert Finlayson

This year, 2013, the World Agroforestry Centre’s Southeast Asia Program (and the Indonesia and Philippine programs) celebrates 20 years of agroforestry research for development with the publication of a Negotiation-support toolkit for learning landscapes, a book that showcases 49 methods and computer software that help create sustainable landscapes.

The Centre in Southeast Asia has pioneered negotiation-support approaches in high-conflict landscapes in Southeast Asia, bringing together various levels of government, local communities, farmers’ associations, NGOs, academic institutions and the private sector to discuss evidence from research in order to resolve the conflicts and create sustainable landscapes for the benefit of as many people as possible, particularly the poor and marginalized.

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Methods, approaches and computer software for creating sustainable landscapes. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Riky Hilmansyah

For wider application of these approaches, however, a need was identified for tools (used in the widest sense to include methods, approaches and computer models) that allow rapid appraisals to be conducted of landscapes, conflict over land tenure, markets, hydrology, agrobiodiversity and carbon stocks and run simulation models at various scales (for example, tree and crop interaction at the plot level, water flows in landscapes, land-use-change dynamics) that can be used to combine generic insights with the specific properties of any new location.

The toolkit that emerged from this work—largely through the Trees in Multi-use Landscapes in Southeast Asia project (2007–2010), which was conducted by the Centre in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the University of Hohenheim, Germany—has been tested in settings throughout Southeast Asia and elsewhere with staff of various national institutions.

New situations brought new demands for additional tools or combinations of tools and thus the toolkit became bigger. While there are more detailed manuals and descriptions for many of the tools and examples of their application, the Negotiation-support toolkit for learning landscapes is meant to show the interconnectedness of the tools and their underlying conceptualization of the constantly evolving set of issues.

The tools are important not just in Southeast Asia. The world’s attention is turning to the Sustainable Development Goals as a follow-on from the uneven success achieved through the Millennium Development Goals and to make them a reality, governments and communities throughout the developing world need to go beyond the jargon and find out what the many manifestations of unsustainable development are and how the landscapes where these occur can be managed on a path towards recovery, if possible without the loss of local livelihoods.

The underlying concept that has evolved over the last 20 years of research is that integrated natural resources management requires site-specific understanding of the various trade-offs between the goods and services that agro-ecosystems can provide. Further, the World Agroforestry Centre’s team of scientists have learned that a ‘landscape approach’ is needed owing to the many interactions that occur at the scale of a landscape, both in ecological and in social  terms. Agroforestry concepts help build a bridge between agriculture and forestry institutions and focus on the people who make a living in their landscapes.

In other words, to realise both economic and environmental health, governments and communities need to look at the specific requirements of each community’s location and also at the bigger, landscape-size picture that includes trees that farmers want. One without the other will lead to an imbalance of interests and potential conflict over resource rights.

Accordingly, resource managers in national and sub-national institutions that interact with the private sector, local communities and migrants need access to cost-effective, replicable tools, methods and approaches to appraise the likely impacts of new technologies and changes in market access and to support evidence-based negotiations over contentious issues. Such issues are likely to arise along with land conversion and intensification and need to be understood in management terms because although the problems would probably not exist if there were no people, excluding people is only an option under very specific conditions.

Most of the issues have to be resolved in negotiation with local communities and other stakeholders, hence the focus of the toolkit and its great importance to the future of the hundreds of millions of people who rely on productive, and sustainable, landscapes.

Read the book

Van Noordwijk M, Lusiana B, Leimona B, Dewi S, Wulandari D, eds. 2013. Negotiation-support toolkit for learning landscapes. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program.

 

 

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The development of the negotiation-support tools and publication of this book has been supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry component on landscape management of forested areas for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods.

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Rob Finlayson

Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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