The Landscape Measures (LM) approach rests on the belief that setting goals for the performance of ecoagricultural landscapes and measuring progress toward reaching those goals benefits stakeholders directly by enhancing their capacity to learn and to manage. The approach also recognizes that landscape measurement and assessment may carry significant transaction costs. It will require stakeholders to engage with a wider set of partners and to work beyond the subject-matter and the geographic domains that they have historically viewed as most pertinent to achieving their goals.
The knowledge that local stakeholders have can complement the knowledge of technical experts. Residents in the landscape are likely to have intimate knowledge of their surroundings and how they have changed over the years. Some types of information—about human-wildlife interactions for example—may be obtainable only from local farmers or landowners.
The involvement of multiple stakeholders lends legitimacy to the results of measurement and assessment processes. To earn credibility within the scientific, academic, and donor communities findings need to be the product of a methodologically sound monitoring program that is guided by experts in relevant fields. To attain credibility among local communities, people who live and work in the landscape need to help formulate and implement the program. Technical experts from local communities, such as staff members of local NGOs, can be especially valuable participants by contributing to both types of credibility.
A well-managed stakeholder engagement process fosters social learning, and adaptive collaborative management. It also builds social capital leading to improved governance systems. Effective engagement of stakeholders can help break down perceptual, philosophical, conceptual and operational barriers that have limited the potential for multifunctional landscape management in the past.
In this work, farmers and others who generate a substantial portion of their livelihoods from the landscape are principle stakeholders. Creating platforms for them to interact in new ways and to network with organizations that can channel technical and material resources into the landscape will empower them to innovate.
While it costs time and money to engage stakeholders in landscape assessment, the costs of not investing in this effort are high. They involve wasting the potential for the improved management and better outcomes that can be achieved by enabling farmers to become better conservation stewards.
If landscape monitoring becomes branded by residents as another attempt to co-opt them into an agenda that does not serve their interests the costs will be long-lived. Helping stakeholders understand how biodiversity benefits agricultural communities is an important early step in preventing this from happening. Learning how to understand and use indigenous knowledge of agroecological systems in research is a more advanced step, while opportunities to invent tools for steps in between are many.