About Livelihoods and Landscapes

Ugandan children - Mount Elgon, Uganda

What are “Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategies”?

Livelihoods and landscapes strategies are plans to deliver human and environmental needs in large areas of land. They have a special emphasis on improving livelihoods through the sustainable use of forests.

Livelihoods and landscapes strategies are plans to deliver human and environmental needs in large areas of land. They have a special emphasis on improving livelihoods through the sustainable use of forests.

Each strategy is different, but they all combine technical, local and organisational knowledge, and aim to be environmentally friendly, financially sustainable and socially equitable. In achieving these multiple aims, decisions for different uses in different parts of a landscape often result in trade-offs that are negotiated between multiple stakeholders. 

Such plans are particularly useful when a natural landscape faces the possibility of radical change through agro-business, forestry and mining development proposals. A livelihoods and landscape strategy can help to mediate development processes and secure outcomes that provide benefits to local people and other stakeholders whilst minimising losses of environmental values.

How is the LLS initiative unique?

The LLS initiative represents a new way of thinking – from seeing nature as needing to be protected from threats, to promoting negotiated plans and actions for productive landscapes. To achieve this, the development and application of LLSs by our initiative goes beyond forest management and includes positive links with other sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, health and the private sector. The application of livelihood and landscape strategies should provides for immediate needs as well as supporting long term change to improve human wellbeing and livelihood resilience.

Why do we need “Livelihoods and Landscape Strategies”?

To improve livelihood security. LLS understands that large numbers of people rely on forests and nature for their livelihoods and that human activities will have an impact on landscapes. LLS tests the assumption that devolved management of landscapes helps more fairly distribute the costs and benefits of resource management and use,  and that this helps stimulate rural income generation and contributes to local economic growth.

To improve governance. The development and implementation of livelihoods and landscapes strategies involves working to improve and strengthen decision-making, implementation and oversight functions.

To enhance ecosystem services. All economies are based on resources provided by ecosystems. Forested landscapes include a variety of ecosystems that provide a wide range of goods and services. These can include water supplies, timber, fuelwood, food, medicines, fibres and other products drawn from the landscapes’ diversity. A LLS seeks to maintain the best possible mix of these living resources so that the ecosystems continue to function properly while supplying valuable goods and services for those living in and around the landscape.

To link biodiversity and poverty reduction. Some forested landscapes are among the most biodiversity rich places on earth, and many of the poorest people are directly dependent on forests. LLS links livelihoods by improving poor people’s access to, and management of, forest landscapes. With secure access and sustainable benefits, communities have the opportunity and motivation to sustainably manage forest resources and enhance livelihoods.

To support national and global priorities. Livelihoods and landscape strategies are aligned with global and national development goals and commitments. LLS seeks alignment with national strategies for biodiversity and for poverty reduction. They are in support of international agreements relating to poverty and environment such as the Millennium Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity among others.

Forest in Costarica
LLS Explained (Audio)

Audio interview with James Gordon

Better Forests, Better Lives (Audio)

James Gordon presents the successes of LLS