The 10 principles of the landscape approach are the product of an intergovernmental and inter-institutional process. The principles represent the consensus opinion of a significant number of major actors on how agricultural production and environmental conservation can best be integrated at a landscape scale.

  • Principle 1: Continual learning and adaptive management - Landscape processes are dynamic. Despite the underlying uncertainties in causes and effects, changes in landscape attributes must inform decision-making. Learning from outcomes can improve management. Adaptive management and, more recently, "adaptive collaborative management" have emerged as practical approaches to this process of continual learning.
  • Principle 2: Common concern entry point - Identifying immediate ways forward through addressing simpler short-term objectives can begin to build trust with stakeholders. Each stakeholder will only join the process if they judge it to be in their interest. Launching the process by focusing on easy-to-reach intermediate targets may provide a basis for stakeholders to begin to work together.
  • Principle 3: Multiple scales - Numerous system influences and feedbacks affect management outcomes, but these impacts unfold under the influence of a diverse range of external influences and constraints. An awareness of higher and lower level processes can improve local interventions, inform higher-level policy and governance, and help coordinate administrative entities.
  • Principle 4: Multifunctionality - Landscapes and their components have multiple uses and purposes, each of which is valued in different ways by different stakeholders. Tradeoffs exist among the differing landscape uses and need to be reconciled. The landscape approach acknowledges the various tradeoffs among these goods and services and addresses them in a spatially explicit and ecosystem-driven manner that reconciles stakeholders' multiple needs, preferences, and aspirations.
  • Principle 5: Multiple stakeholders - Multiple stakeholders frame and express objectives in different ways. Failure to engage stakeholders in an equitable manner in decision-making processes will lead to sub-optimal, and sometimes unethical, outcomes. All stakeholders should be recognized, even though efficient pursuit of negotiated solutions may involve only a subset of stakeholders.
  • Principle 6: Negotiated and transparent change logic - Transparency is the basis of trust among stakeholders, and is achieved through a mutually understood and negotiated process of changed; helped by good governance. All stakeholders need to understand and accept the general logic, legitimacy, and justification for a course of action, and to be aware of the risks and uncertainties. Building and maintaining such a consensus is a fundamental goal of a landscape approach.
  • Principle 7: Clarification of rights and responsibilities - Rules on resources access and land use shape social and conservation outcomes and need to be clear as a basis for good management. Access to a fair justice system allows for conflict resolution and recourse. The rights and responsibilities of different actors need to be clear to, and accepted by, all stakeholders. Clarifying rights and responsibilities is now replacing the command-and-control approach.
  • Principle 8: Participatory and user-friendly monitoring - To facilitate shared learning, information needs to be widely accessible. Systems that integrate different kinds of information need to be developed. When stakeholders have agreed on desirable actions and outcomes, they will share an interest in assessing progress. The gathering and interpretation of information is a vital part of developing and updating the "theories of change" on which the landscape approach is based.
  • Principle 9: Resilience - System-level resilience can be increased through an active recognition of threats and vulnerabilities. Actions need to be promoted that address threats and that allow recovery after perturbation through improving capacity to resist and respond. Resilience may not be well understood in every situation, but can be improved through local learning and through drawing lessons from elsewhere.
  • Principle 10: Strengthened stakeholder capacity - People require the ability to participate effectively and to accept various roles and responsibilities. Such participation presupposes certain skills and abilities (social, cultural, financial). The complex and changing nature of landscape processes requires competent and effective representation and institutions that are able to engage with all the issues raised by the process.

Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses provides more detail on the landscape approach to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, mining, and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals.