PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue to foster talks between land use competitors

An aerial view of a tropical forest in Sarawak

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone who lives off the land just got along? If farmers could grow crops without irreversibly damaging the soil or cutting down forests to grow monocultures?

That wouldn’t be just nice, it would be perfect, says Terry Sunderland, Team Leader Sustainable Landscapes and Food Systems at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Sunderland and many other scientists are pushing for an integrated landscape approach to land use planning as part of CIFOR’s ongoing research on landscape approaches.

Such an approach gets land users to negotiate competing interests and share a collective vision. In theory, this should also lead to more sustainable land use and resource management.

In the light of the complexities of today’s world, sectoral thinking should a thing of the past, says Sunderland. In fact, the practical side of multi-functional landscape models has been lagging behind, so he and his colleagues are demonstrating how integrated approaches are in fact working on the ground.

Moving from theory to practice

On 16 November, CIFOR will host a side event at the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) Stakeholder Dialogue in Bali, Indonesia.

The event brings together people from as many land-use sectors as possible, ranging from government to the private sector, conservation and development agencies to local non-governmental organisations to share their experiences.

“We have to show finally that landscape approaches actually work. And I am optimistic because I see progress,” he says.

He takes his confidence from recent experiences at the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in Hawaii.

“I listened to Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and APRIL that’s the private sector; to USAID, representing the development sector; to the Indonesian government and the WCS, and Burung Indonesia; that means conservationists. They were all talking about the same thing but from their varied perspectives: sustainable landscapes. As it turns out: they are very close to coming to a consensus. It’s a huge achievement.” he explains.

Nevertheless, the move from theory to practice will be a key challenge for CIFOR’s work under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. He thinks this could be feasible because the ten principles of the landscape approach, research that CIFOR led, have been widely accepted as a useful framework to reconcile competing land uses.

PEFC Forest Certification Week runs from 14 to 18 November in Bali. The Stakeholder Dialogue will be held from 17 to 18 Nov.