Landscape-Level Change

Sarstun_settlements_map_SED

This map shows the locations of communities and EcoLogic agroforestry plots (fuschia) in Sarstun, Guatemala. Created by Strategies for Equitable Development, LLC.

With the adoption of our 2013-2017 Strategic Plan, EcoLogic began to take a landscape-level approach to community-led conservation and natural resource management.

“Landscape-level conservation” is about protecting and restoring natural systems across various types of land use including in and around protected areas at a regional level—in other words, at a larger scale than EcoLogic has worked in the past.

EcoLogic’s strategy is to promote sustainable landscape management by focusing on three inter-related areas:

  1. Improving rural community well-being,
  2. Conserving and managing at-risk areas, and
  3. Facilitating coalitions at the landscape level.

At EcoLogic, this larger-scale approach is a natural extension of the community-powered conservation work we already do at the local level. This approach has been several years in the making as we have developed our activities and methodologies to best collaborate and support rural and indigenous communities as they identify their natural resource and environmental needs and move to become active champions of ecological restoration. At the same time, we have always recognized that challenges such as habitat fragmentation, pollution, climate change, and the demands of an increasing population are global problems that require solutions that are effective and adaptable, inspire replication, and have a greater regional impact.

In the past, EcoLogic has worked closely with local organizations to promote positive change in their communities and the surrounding environment. We have worked on a community by community and project by project basis, taking our cue from locally defined priorities and challenges to provide the best solutions for a given place and people. We are maintaining this people- and community-centered approach, but we also are putting into place strategies to enable more communities to see and work alongside their peers to experiment with and adopt successful new practices, such as agroforestry or local resource management councils. We recognize that innovation involves risk, and by providing technical assistance, incentives, and ongoing support, EcoLogic is working to reduce the risks for local people to successfully adopt these new and different practices.

Tree plantingEcoLogic has also modified the criteria we use to evaluate a potential project site to favor locations that provide greater opportunities for demonstration projects, learning exchanges, and habitat connectivity. Other changes in our practices include an increase in the type of learning exchanges we promote as we seek to bring together more groups of community members from different parts of the region to share their knowledge and practical experience. We are also increasing the frequency of these learning exchanges and developing and offering more types of trainings.

We are developing specific ways we can facilitate conversations and the piloting of new projects by groups of key stakeholders, including local, national, and regional representatives; interested parties from the public and private sectors; other nongovernmental organizations; and rural community leaders. EcoLogic also is investing time and strategic planning to regional-level partnerships and programs and finding ways to integrate our community collaborators and regional partners into these efforts, so that rural and indigenous peoples can have a greater say in the solutions being implemented to support positive environmental change at a regional or landscape level. In doing so we expect these efforts and activities will create a productive environment where rural communities are more engaged and empowered as stewards of their natural resources and local ecosystems and thus, working together, are effecting national, local, and regional change.