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Landscape-scale Stewardship

Landscape-scale Stewardship

Why Do Stewardship at a Landscape Scale?

Property and organizational boundaries often define how we care for our land, air, and water. However, the needs of the people, animals, and plants that depend upon those resources often do not fall within those same lines.

Moreover, our largest and most pressing collective challenges—such as climate change, the need for clean air and water, and rapidly changing population and economic dynamics—are happening at a scale and a pace that demand that we use our collective resources and experience to meet and exceed them.

Landscape-scale stewardship is how we work together across boundaries to care for the places we love, enjoy, and depend upon, and how we continue to renew and sustain these places for current and future generations.

One Tam leads with this approach by creating a more seamless network among Mt. Tamalpais’ land managers and offering pathways for deeper community participation. By working together, we can leverage our combined skills and resources to do more together than we ever could alone.

One Tam’s mountain-wide invasive species early detection and wildlife monitoring projects are just two examples of the tangible benefits of working this way. Our recent comprehensive ecological health assessment and our coordinated volunteer and youth programs also demonstrate the power of our collective impact.

While land stewardship partnerships are not entirely new, those committed to long-term action at a regional or landscape level are still not widespread. However, there have been recent shifts within the field towards embracing these kinds of innovative partnerships as well as a more human-inclusive approach to land stewardship.

Land stewardship is not a new idea; indigenous peoples have been caring for their lands and waters since time immemorial. However, European settlers to the U.S. brought with them a very different set of values and practices related to ownership and land use that created a fragmented landscape with countless different management practices.

The early 1900s saw a growing awareness that the current pace of development and resource extraction were a threat to remaining open spaces and natural areas, resulting in the establishment of some of our first national parks and other important land protection efforts. Conservation ideas and practices continued to evolve over the course of the 20th century, incorporating more and more science and public involvement over the years.

Even so, most of our public and open space lands had been split up among different agencies and organizations, working on different timelines, with different missions and goals, and different levels of funding and political support. This created a fractured and uncoordinated approach to conservation and stewardship, which has only recently started to change. 

One Tam has been leading an effort with other landscape-scale partnerships across California to overcome barriers to collaboration, develop and share partnership resources and efficiencies, build awareness of the value of working at this scale, and increase investment among funders and legislators for this expanding movement. It is a model that many other collaboratives around the state and country are turning to.

California Landscape Stewardship Network members are committed to advancing the practice of landscape-scale stewardship across the state. This means that our impact is not limited to the scope, scale, or home geographies of our members. Rather, we are a vehicle to advance and amplify this movement everywhere. What grounds this work is a set of common valuesdeveloped together by the California Network and One Tam.

The California Network is also a part of the national Network for Landscape Conservation, which serves a unique purpose as the umbrella network and hub of activity, strategy, and inspiration to advance and implement the practice of conservation at this necessary landscape scale. This rapidly growing network currently includes more than 100 organizational partners and 2,000 individual practitioners. Together, this broad-based and inclusive community is developing effective tools and strategies and advancing best practices and policies to help people sustain the integrated landscapes we cannot live without.

See the California Landscape Stewardship Network and national Network for Landscape Conservation resource libraries for more information about the theory and practice of landscape-scale conservation, case studies, research, implementation toolkits, and a wide range of other resources.

To learn more about landscape-scale stewardship work contact