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Woman feeding ducks.
Livelihood activities in Vietnam supported through a grant to People Resources and Conservation Foundation.
© Le Van Viet (PRCF)

What Is a Production Landscape?

Conservation within protected areas isn't enough

Anyone who has completed a CEPF project has come across the term “production landscape” as part of their reporting requirements. It’s an important tracking measurement for CEPF: To date, our grantees have helped strengthen biodiversity management of more than 10 million hectares of production landscapes.

But sometimes there’s confusion about what a production landscape is, and what it isn’t. As part of our new “Biodiversity Basics” blog series, we’re taking a step back and explaining what these places are and why they are so important for conservation.

What is a production landscape?

CEPF defines a production landscape as an unprotected area where economic activity, such as agriculture, livestock grazing, forestry or fishing takes place. 

That might seem like a broad definition—it is, and that’s on purpose.

“The world is a diverse place, and production landscapes across the globe differ in the products that are extracted, the management regimes that are used, the biodiversity present in the landscape, and the management strategies used to conserve biodiversity,” said Nina Marshall, CEPF’s senior director of monitoring, evaluation and outreach.

Why are production landscapes important to conservation and to CEPF?

Production landscapes can harbor significant biodiversity and often serve to connect one protected area with another.

“We can’t simply limit our investments to protected areas. There’s a wider landscape where conservation needs to happen,” said CEPF Managing Director Jack Tordoff. “The amount of land we can set aside and manage purely for conservation is limited. The human population needs resources.”

CEPF supports the rights of Indigenous and local people in exercising their rights to natural resources; conservation efforts can help them do so in a sustainable way.

What are some examples of conservation efforts within production landscapes?

  • Promoting the passage of local regulations that allow fishing in a lake but only in a sustainable manner, no poisoning.
  • Taking down fencing to allow wild animals to pass through a farm unimpeded.
  • Planting native trees on a rubber plantation as a windbreak.
  • Planting ground-cover crops during the fallow season to provide cover for wildlife.
  • Training livestock owners in more efficient methods to corral their animals and how to use non-lethal methods to deter predators.
  • Decreasing the demand for timber and fuelwood by turning sawdust from local mills into briquettes (i.e., burnable bricks).
  • Incentivizing organic cultivation techniques that reduce the use of synthetic pesticides.

What is the relationship between a production landscape and OECM?

In the last decade, OECM—other effective area-based conservation measures—has become a commonly used term by IUCN and others. These are places achieving the long-term conservation of biodiversity outside of protected areas. 

If the governing body consents, these areas can be officially recognized as an OECM (you can search the OECM database here).

As explained earlier, a production landscape is an unprotected area where economic activity occurs; that doesn’t mean any conservation efforts are necessarily taking place there. Therefore, while all production landscapes have the potential to become OECMs, they are not necessarily OECMs today.

How does CEPF count the “hectares of strengthened management of biodiversity within production landscapes” in its reporting? 

For an area to be considered as having strengthened management of biodiversity, it can benefit from a wide range of interventions: best practices and guidelines implemented, incentive schemes introduced, products certified, and sustainable harvesting regulations introduced among them.

Areas that are protected are not counted under this indicator. Note that a protected landscape can include part or all of an unprotected Key Biodiversity Area.