How can Integrated Landscape Management add financial value to investments?

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Sara Scherr
Sara Scherr
Sara is a PhD agricultural economist and founder and president of EcoAgriculture Partners.

Why go through the trouble of a landscape partnership?

There is no single reason for a company, NGO or government agency to engage in a landscape partnership. The value depends on the particular farmer, business or organization’s place in a supply chain, their dependence on long-term resources and relations in the landscape, and whether the landscape challenges that they face can be adequately addressed on their own.1

Yet there are many ways in which landscape partnerships can create financial, social and environmental values for investments throughout a landscape. The partnerships can help identify how different stakeholders in a landscape impact one another and how they can work together to achieve common objectives. For example, an upstream farmer who reforests a hillside can have a positive impact on downstream water users. The challenge is to harness the values created by such interventions and capture them in a business idea.

The right investment in the right place at the right time

Many landscape investments rely on existing business logic and formal markets. The farmer who grows agricultural produce and gets certified, or a reforestation project that earns carbon credits for a compliance market in Europe both operate in the context of markets that have already been developed. Many businesses will clearly recognize how a given landscape intervention can improve their access to markets, reduce their costs or limit their exposure to supply, climate, reputational or regulatory risks.

Other landscape-friendly investments may need to go beyond standard models to establish new markets, such as a market for ecosystem services, or novel business partnerships between different actors in the landscape. Creative solutions are needed to figure out investment designs that generate financial, environmental and social values. Established landscape platforms and partnerships can facilitate the development of such solutions.


  1. Scherr, Sara J., Seth Shames, Lee Gross, Maria Ana Borges, Gerard Bos and Andre Brasser. 2017. Business for Sustainable Landscapes: An Action Agenda to Advance Landscape Partnerships for Sustainable Development.

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