A forested landscape in a high-altitude valley in Western Bhutan.
Photo: Sabine Nebel


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The problems related to forests and their management are still tackled with rather conservative and sectoral approaches today – both in the global North and South. However, such isolated strategies cannot accommodate the competing interests of different stakeholders. The multiple functions and management practices of the different production systems and landscape elements are too intricately interlinked. Hence our authors call for a holistic approach and take various projects to show what counts in implementing such a landscape-based strategy.

Forested landscapes must satisfy different needs of different stakeholders in parallel, such as biodiversity conservation, timber production, water quality and quantity, protection from natural hazards, food security and economic development (e.g. tourism, mining, infrastructure). While in industrial countries, homogenous landscapes focusing on one function (e.g. on food production) dominate, in developing countries, smallholder farming systems often shape a small, scattered and still multifunctional landscape. The multifunctionality of such mosaic landscapes depends highly on the interlinkages between different resources and land uses that constitute the landscape, each with a different value to different stakeholders. The current efforts of development cooperation try to preserve and promote this multifunctionality of landscapes in developing countries in order to improve the resilience of local people’s livelihoods, supporting ecosystems and inclusive socio-political systems.

The increase and decrease of forested areas are directly linked to other land uses in a landscape. Globally speaking, forests are under increasing pressure because other land uses – particularly agricultural and pastoral land uses – are expanding into forested areas.

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