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Landscapes are diverse, multifunctional and relate to both natural aspects (ecology, geography, etc.) and social dimensions (livelihoods, policy, institutional, economics, etc.).
These aspects and dimensions can be local as well as regional or even global. Furthermore, each landscape is distinct: they are the product of different social and ecological processes at multiple scales that are unique to that landscape at a particular moment in time. Finally, landscapes are more than just ecological or physical/material properties and should also be seen as social constructs. Social groups construct their own image of the landscape that in turn affects its material constitution. All this suggests that landscapes do not have fixed borders, and that the different relevant actors may be difficult to identify. This poses specific challenges for governance processes.
‘Landscape governance’ is a more recent addition to the literature on forest and nature governance and refers to the complexity of managing, conserving or restoring multifunctional landscapes ranging from the global north (mainly urban landscapes) to the global south (mainly rural landscapes). Landscape governance requires an integrated approach that involves relevant actors from different stakeholder groups, including governments, nongovernmental organisations, private land owners, and private companies and their investors. It also requires a cross scale approach that considers not only the characteristics of the landscapes in question, but also the wider environmental, social and economic drivers that affect it, such as commodity chains, climate change, or social migration. Finally, it involves the collaboration of experts from different disciplines, including ecology, political science and economics.