Structuring perceptions and simulating the reality of land-use changes in training in landscape governance
Landscapes are many-splendoured things. A training course has set out to help people involved in their management better understand the complexities.
By Sacha Amaruzaman and Meine van Noordwijk
Forested landscapes are crucial in providing various ecosystem services to improve human well-being through food provision, biodiversity and agricultural commodities, among others. Within these landscapes, such services often compete for space. Any landscape mosaic is influenced by the differing agendas and interests of the people who reside within it as well as those from outside. Hence, one of the main challenges of managing landscapes is finding a synergy between the different interests through dialogue, negotiation and mediation.
To promote a better understanding of landscape governance, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry—which is led by the Center for International Forestry Research in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and others—and the Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation in the Netherlands facilitated an international training course—Governance of Landscapes, Forests and People—in Bogor, Indonesia over two weeks in April 2016. The course aimed to help participants adopt an integrative, cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach in order to mediate different interests and facilitate negotiations to sustainably manage landscapes. Thirty people joined the course, hailing from Asia, Europe, Africa and South America with backgrounds in government, non-governmental organizations and academe.
During the training, ICRAF lead the facilitation of two sessions: Q-methodology; and Land-use Game. In the Q-methodology session, ICRAF ran an exercise to reveal the perceptions of the participants of the definition of landscape governance. Using Q-methodology, which is a qualitative research method to structure different points of view, the participants were asked to sort their subjective opinions about landscape governance. The first step was generating statements that were compiled from the participants’ sharing session on the first day. A total of 32 statements were used for Q-sorting, the second step. This involved the participants sorting the statements into a Q-sort matrix. At the end of the course, the results were distributed to all participants to give them an idea of the common perspectives of the group.
The second session facilitated by ICRAF was the Land-Use Game, which is also known as the RUPES Game (after the acronym of the project in which it was originally developed). The participants were assigned roles within an imaginary landscape of either villagers or external agents, such as palm-oil company representatives, government watershed agency officials, wildlife NGO staff, coal miners and timber plantation staff. Based on a case from Lubuk Beringin Watershed, which was one of the RUPES project’s sites in Sumber Jaya, Indonesia, the game simulated the realities behind land-use change, where external actors and economic pressure often influence the decision of villagers about their use of land.
The game setting was villages, with each consisting of 25 plots of land use, represented on the land-use board by matrix of 5 x 5 grids. The land uses determined the annual incomes of the villagers. Each round of the game represented a year, in which external agents came to the villages to negotiate changing—or conserving—village land-use plots to meet their own agenda. The changes of land use, as well as the various shocks that occurred in several rounds, such as forest fires and a drop in the price of rice, had an impact on villagers’ incomes, so they had to plan their land-use strategies wisely.
In the final part of the game, the participants reflected on how the game made them understand better how different actors within a landscape tried to push their own interests. Some of the external agents could have collaborated, but did not, so failed to achieve their goals. The villagers demonstrated a strong belief in the importance of conserving the environment, which was applied in their strategy and led to a relatively small number of changes to land use.
ICRAF used this game in Sumatra, Indonesia with male and female smallholders. In contrast to the participants of the training course, the results of the game played with real villagers showed a more economic orientation of behaviour, demonstrated by aggressive and massive land-use change.
From this, we can see that understanding the behaviours and interests of specific groups is a crucial aspect of managing a landscape. Experimental methods, such as the Q-methodology and Land-use Game, can be used as powerful tools to improve comprehension among people within a landscape in order to reach harmonious and sustainable landscapes.
Read more about the game
Villamor G, Desrianti F, Akiefnawati R, Amaruzaman S, van Noordwijk M. 2013. Gender influences decisions to change land use practices in the tropical forest margins of Jambi, Indonesia. Journal of Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6):735-775.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry