Fiji and Tonga’s landscapes are experiencing change; this is occurring alongside governments seeking to develop agriculture as part of a broader growth strategy. It is important to ensure that such developments do not undermine rural livelihoods, sustainability, and climate resilience. Likewise, it is important to prevent interventions designed to support goals of agricultural growth from exacerbating existing climate vulnerabilities or landscape degradation. These challenges are not unique to the South Pacific. Globally, recent approaches to agricultural development have sought to balance agricultural outcomes with other environmental, social, and economic objectives.
The concept of landscape approaches to agricultural management has been advocated to balance objectives of climate resilience, sustainability, and livelihood security. Alongside growth agendas, policymakers in Fiji and Tonga are aware of the importance of landscape level management, with strategic policy and development projects focusing on resilient agricultural livelihoods within landscapes.
Within Pacific Island countries, such as Fiji and Tonga, livelihoods and landscapes are highly interconnected. As seen in numerous case-studies around the world the effects of climate stressors or interventions in landscapes can propagate through a system and across scales with unforeseen impacts. Also, socio-ecological systems, including landscapes, can respond non-linearly to change. This means apparently small changes in landscape management could have large consequences in terms of service provision, livelihoods, and capacity to buffer climate stressors.
Due to the complexity of landscape systems, and multiple factors operating at multiple scales, fully assessing the impact of change or interventions in landscapes is challenging.
However, our previous research has highlighted several challenges communities face in responding to intensifying climate stressors for landscape and socio-economic dynamics, and as such this is research which needs immediate focus to help support community knowledge systems.