Spatial Tools for Inclusive Landscape Governance: Negotiating Land Use, Land-Cover Change, and Future Landscape Scenarios in Two Multistakeholder Platforms in Zambia

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Landscape approaches are being promoted as a form of negotiated governance to help reconcile competing land uses and identify common concerns for planning envisioned future landscapes. Multistakeholder platforms play a key role in these efforts. This paper aims to contribute to an emerging scholarship that explores how spatial tools can be used in such platforms as boundary objects and if and how they can contribute to inclusive landscape negotiations and governance. We used spatial mapping to observe and document stakeholder perceptions about drivers of land-use and land-cover change and desired future scenarios that accommodate competing land uses. We found that land-cover maps derived from satellite images helped participants identify land-use change dynamics and drivers. The ensuing community mapping of desired landscape scenarios in both multistakeholder platforms (MSPs) triggered a process of identifying common concerns and defining actionable priorities. However, in one MSP, stakeholders ultimately reached a compromise on a draft land-use map that was widely regarded as an entry point for further negotiations in Local Area Plans, while the other lacked consensus due to deep-seated social-cultural issues, such as social-class-based disagreements. This paper illustrates, first, that instead of focusing on the end product (participatory maps), understanding negotiation processes helps uncover why spatial tools may fail to achieve the intended purpose of reconciling land uses. Second, spatial tools only work for landscape approaches if MSPs are inclusive and foster a collaborative process that considers the views of all participants. The authors recommend that those steering MSPs stimulate them to evolve from “mere consultation forums” to “innovative, participatory platforms”, encouraging stakeholders to engage in genuine negotiation processes that allow negotiated and alternative outcomes. We contend that such an approach, supported by spatial tools, is likely to contribute to the implementation of landscape approaches. Policymakers and land users can use these spatial tools as boundary objects in user-focused strategies that engender inclusive stakeholder participation and ensure legitimate, acceptable, and sustainable outcomes.

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