Strategic land-use planning instruments in tropical regions: state of the art and future research

Related GLP Member: Eduardo Oliveira, Patrick Meyfroidt


Human-induced activities are threatening the socio-economic and ecological sustainability of land systems globally, including in tropical, low-income regions. In these regions, land-use planning is used to assess, manage, and monitor the physical, social, and economic conditions of territories and thus assist agribusiness, smallholder farmers, and other land users. There is, however, a lack of systematic studies identifying strategic land-use planning instruments and further detailing the extent to which their characteristics support land governance. In this paper, we attempt to address this gap. Based on a literature review, we identified three clusters of instruments, supporting land-use planning: (I) land-assessment instruments, (II) land-zoning instruments, and (III) participatory instruments. Plan-implementation instruments were not found. We conclude by sketching future research on (i) land tenure–planning nexus, (ii) streamlining plan-implementation, and (iii) transdisciplinary planning processes, intended to expand further the importance of the strategic approach in land-use planning in terms of governing tropical landscapes.