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Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice (February 6 2015)

Why climate researchers are so excited about landscapes....? In the recently published book, Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice the authors explore the different functions of landscapes – from carbon sequestration and water conservation to producing commodities and contributing to improved livelihoods for their inhabitants. This multifunctionality gets researchers excited about the landscapes approach, with the promise of integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation alongside multiple social, economic and environmental objectives: resulting in sustainable climate-smart landscapes.

The debate on climate change focuses on global carbon flows and on broad-brush generalisations about how societies may adapt to predicted future conditions. However, the actual decisions on how and where to sequester carbon and how to adapt to very uncertain futures will need to take place at more local levels.

Although global and national policies will provide the context, the actual outcomes will be determined by the decisions of millions of stakeholders all seeking to improve their own condition. Somehow these individual decisions must build a ‘whole’ that is greater than the sum of their parts.

This book argues persuasively that a realistic ‘whole’ is the climate-smart landscape. Landscapes yield multiple benefits, they support biodiversity, mitigate natural disasters, sequester carbon, but most importantly they provide for sustainable commercial activity. The landscape approach considers how interconnected components of the landscape can be managed to reap multiple benefits and balance commercial, social and environmental concerns.