We begin this text by clarifying what we mean by territory. In our long journey, which began about twenty years ago while working on land and natural resources for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), we understood territories as areas of continuous interaction between humans and nature. We could therefore consider the less anthropized territories (e.g. ecological reserves and pristine areas) as well as areas more affected and managed by humans which have reduced the flow of nature to a minimum (as witnessed in urban areas).
Since the transformative power of humans has always been much greater than that of nature (in the short term), we decided to primarily focus on the diverse way in which people mold, shape and transform a natural ecosystem into an anthropized one.
Other schools of thought have favoured the clear demarcations of the perimeter boundaries found for these territorial spaces. While some following traditional trends of 1970s planning based on the political administrative delimitation, others followed more nature-based trends (such as those used by experts involved in watershed management and land use planning, both of which we still find today).
By choosing to take a more people-centered focus, we also decided not to worry about the spatial definition and instead concentrate more on understanding the motivations found in the diversity of actors, their goals and their visions. In this way, we moved away from the historical concerns of FAO, which aimed to propose a better use of natural resources of those territories; initially only for productive purposes and later also for environmental "sustainability".
It was no small difference, in fact, over the years this difference has grown, and we will try to explain why in the following pages.
Authors and Publishers
Paolo Groppo, PhD, FAO(R) Senior Territorial Development and Land Governance expert
Francisco Carranza, FAO, Land Tenure Officer
Marco De Gaetano, PhD, FAO, Senior Emergency and Rehabilitation Officer
Fenella Henderson-Howat, WFP, Programme Policy Officer
The vision of the Land Portal Foundation is to improve land governance to benefit those with the most insecure land rights and the greatest vulnerability to landlessness through information and knowledge sharing.