Integrated Landscape and Livelihood Management System


 – A Powerful New Addition to the Decision-Making Toolbox



Why IL2MS ?

There is a growing recognition to the idea that the world is composed of multiple, interrelated complex systems. Due to inherent complexity, attempts have been made to explain these systems by understanding the social and natural processes independently for a long time. It is only recent that science has refocused its interest to study real world complex systems as a whole. One of the dominant ways to understand these complex systems is to look at them as socio-ecological systems – in other words, how human societies and their surrounding ecosystems interact and influence each other as a whole. The ability to analyze these complex systems as social ecological systems has largely been enabled by the advances in computing techniques.

The complexity of socio-ecological systems is further increased by shocks such as global warming that change the behavior of these systems. The impending and unprecedented impacts of climate change emphasize the importance of understanding and managing such socio-ecological systems. Policies such as REDD+ are commendable for recognizing that there are critical interactions between humans and nature, and they have great potential for both mitigating and adapting to climate change. The effectiveness of such policies depends upon how well the policy makers understand the impact of such policies on complex systems and how well managers implement them.

However, there is an overwhelming lack of decision-making tools to support policy makers in understanding the behavior of these systems, managers in creating strategies that account for social and ecological processes, and that meet a range of stakeholder needs. IL2MS seeks to help fill that void as a tool that enables policy makers and managers to create and to implement effective policies for complex socio-ecological systems. Through modeling, simulations and scenario analyses, managers can design policies and determine suitable strategies for a range of temporal and spatial scales – from individual forest stands to entire landscapes and from one year to one hundred years in the future.

More details on IL2MS are outlined below, as well as in the “Models as Decision Making Tools for Managers” presentation. For a case study regarding how IL2MS will be implemented in India, please see “Forests and India.”


Landscape Management System

landscape mgtThe Landscape Management System coordinates the activities of several other programs, including the Forest Vegetation Simulator developed by the U.S. Forest Service, in order to provide robust and flexible analyses of forest stands and landscapes. To learn more, please visit



Livelihood Management System

LivelihoodThe Livelihood Management System utilizes system dynamics theory to simulate complex socio-ecological systems. It focuses on the causal relationships among forests and communities and hence provides a much better way to understand the dynamics in a complex system.



IL2MS: Integrated Landscape and Livelihood Management System


IL2MS aims to retain a user-friendly interface while integrating the Landscape Management System and the Livelihood Management System in order to capture the critical interdependencies among ecological, social, and political systems. Managers can simply input place-specific data and receive graphical and tabular output, e.g. Excel-based datasheets, perform scenario analysis and create evidence-based management strategies. IL2MS allows managers to plan for the three following critical objectives:

1)    Livelihood
2)    Carbon Sequestration
3)    Biodiversity through Habitat Structure


Scenario Analysis for Development of Management Strategies

Typically, scientists perform experiments in order to understand causal relationships. Unfortunately, experiments cannot be performed on large, complex socio-ecological systems in the real world. Therefore, the best way to understand how these complex systems work and how/where we can intervene in these systems to bring about the results that we want is through simulation. IL2MS is a model that will provide this ability to managers.

Managers will be able to simulate a range of potential management strategies for a particular area over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Using place-specific data and proposed management interventions, IL2MS will produce graphic and tabular outputs that will allow managers to see the ecological and social/economic effects of different management strategies. By analyzing a range of scenarios, managers can then determine which strategy they should implement in order to achieve the desired results. For examples of IL2MS outputs that would be used for Scenario Analysis, please see the “Models as Decision Making Tools for Managers” presentation. For more details and case studies of the Landscape Management System, please visit


Benefits of IL2MS

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  • Holistic – IL2MS incorporates ecological, social, political, and economic factors for analysis
  • Inclusive, Collaborative Process – IL2MS will be co-developed with resident institutions
  • Flexible – IL2MS can be used to analyze different scales of operation in time and space, from forest stands to landscapes; from 1 year to 100 years in the future
  • Better Decision-Making – IL2MS assists managers in developing evidence-based strategies through scenario analysis
  • Climate-Change Mitigation and Adaptation – IL2MS helps decision-makers to pinpoint and to manage for ecological goals, e.g. carbon sequestration, and socio-economic goals, e.g. household income/adaptive capacity
  • It can be integrated with regional climate models in understanding the role of small scale systems in contributing to climate change.



IL2MS supports REDD+ Goals

  • Creating incentives for local communities
  • Facilitating plans for mitigation and adaptation of climate change
  • Improving ecological and environmental services
  • Supporting biodiversity conservation plans


Application of IL2MS: India Case Study 

Forests cover 24% of India’s geographical area which is roughly 2% of global forest. With a population of 300 million significantly dependent on these forests, the impact of climate change makes India one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. Yale F&ES is collaborating with Forest PLUS (USAID funded project) and Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India to pilot IL2MS as a decision making tool for forest managers to mitigate the effects of climate change. Please see “Forests and India.”



Dr. Alark Saxena (