Environmental stewardship

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Environmental stewardship refers to the responsible use and protection of the natural environment through active participation in conservation efforts and sustainable practices by individuals, small groups, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and other collective networks. Aldo Leopold (1887–1949) championed environmental stewardship in land ethics, exploring the ethical implications of "dealing with man's relationship to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it."  

Resilience-based ecosystem stewardship[edit]

Resilience-based ecosystem stewardship emphasizes resilience as an integral feature of responding and interacting with the environment in a constantly changing world. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to absorb disturbance and still maintain its basic function and structure. For example, ecosystems do not serve as singular resources, but rather are function-dependent in providing an array of ecosystem services. Additionally, this type of stewardship recognizes resource managers and management systems as influential and informed participants in the natural systems that are serviced by humans.  

Roles of environmental stewards[edit]

There are three types of environmental stewards: doers, donors, and practitioners.

Doers take action such as volunteering to clean up oil after an oil spill. Donors contribute financially through donation of money or hosting of public events to raise funds. Typical donors are government agencies. Practitioners work on a day-to-day basis to steer governmental agencies, scientists, stakeholder groups, or any other group toward a stewardship outcome. Together these three groups help keep the ecosystem healthy.[1]

Anybody can be an environmental steward by being aware of the world around them and minimizing their negative impact on the environment.[2] With a biocultural conservation perspective, Ricardo Rozzi and collaborators have proposed participatory intercultural approaches to earth stewardship,[3] focused on the potential that long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER) sites have to coordinate heterogeneous local initiatives with global networking, and implementation of culturally diverse forms of earth stewardship.[4]

Examples of environmental stewardship[edit]

Many programs, partnerships, and funding initiatives have tried to implement environmental stewardship into the workings of society. Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP),[5] a partnership program overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency, provides pesticide-user consultation to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and identify the detrimental impact these chemicals can have on social and environmental health.

In 2006, England placed environmental stewardship at the center of an agricultural incentives mechanism, encouraging cattle farmers to better manage their land, crops, animals and material use.[6] The Environmental Stewardship Award was created as part of this initiative to highlight members whose actions exemplify alignment with environmental stewardship.[7]

Social science implications[edit]

Studies have explored the benefits of environmental stewardship in various contexts such as the evaluation, modeling and integration into policy, system management and urban planning. One such study has examined how social attributes of environmental stewardship can be used to reconfigure local conservation efforts.[8] Social ties to environmental stewardship are displayed by the NRPA's efforts to place environmental stewardship at the forefront of childhood development and youths' consciousness of the outdoors.[9] Similarly, practicing environmental stewardship has been suggested as effective mental health treatments and natural therapies.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Increasing Capacity for Stewardship of Oceans and Coasts, P. 30
  2. ^ National Research Council. (2008). Increasing Capacity for Stewardship of Oceans and Coasts. The National Academic Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington DC 20001.
  3. ^ Ricardo Rozzi, Stuart F. Chapin, J.Baird Callicott, Steward T.A. Pickett, Mary Power Juan J. Armesto, Roy H. May Jr (eds). 2015. Earth Stewardship: Linking Ecology and Ethics in Theory and Praxis. Series Ecology and Ethics. Springer, Dordrecht: The Netherlands.
  4. ^ Ricardo Rozzi and collaborators. 2012. Integrating ecology and environmental ethics: Earth stewardship in the southern end of the Americas. [BioScience 62(3): 226-236 https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/62/3/226/358404]
  5. ^ US EPA, OCSPP (2015-09-30). "Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP)". www.epa.gov. Retrieved 2022-05-29.
  6. ^ "Environmental Stewardship explained". InBrief.co.uk. Retrieved 2022-05-30.
  7. ^ "Environmental Stewardship - About". Environmental Stewardship. Retrieved 2022-05-29.
  8. ^ Bennett, Nathan J.; Whitty, Tara S.; Finkbeiner, Elena; Pittman, Jeremy; Bassett, Hannah; Gelcich, Stefan; Allison, Edward H. (April 2018). "Environmental Stewardship: A Conceptual Review and Analytical Framework". Environmental Management. 61 (4): 597–614. doi:10.1007/s00267-017-0993-2. ISSN 0364-152X. PMC 5849669. PMID 29387947 – via National Library of Medicine.
  9. ^ "Cultivating Environmental Stewardship | National Recreation and Park Association". www.nrpa.org. Retrieved 2022-05-29.
  10. ^ Alexander, Gina K.; Brooks, Vicki (2022-02-01). "Nature-based therapeutics: A collaborative research agenda promoting equitable access and environmental stewardship". Collegian. 29 (1): 119–124. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2021.03.001. ISSN 1322-7696.