What is Environmental Stewardship?: New Open Access Review Paper

Environmental stewardship is a valuable and holistic concept for guiding productive and sustained relationships with the environment. A group of colleagues and I have just published a new open access paper in the journal Environmental Management titled: “Environmental Stewardship: A conceptual review and analytical framework“. In this paper, we define local environmental stewardship as “the actions taken by individuals, groups or networks of actors, with various motivations and levels of capacity, to protect, care for or responsibly use the environment in pursuit of environmental and/or social outcomes in diverse social–ecological contexts.” We review the literature to provide a framework to guide analysis of local environmental stewardship initiatives in diverse contexts and situations.

Environmental stewardship

Abstract: There has been increasing attention to and investment in local environmental stewardship in conservation and environmental management policies and programs globally. Yet environmental stewardship has not received adequate conceptual attention. Establishing a clear definition and comprehensive analytical framework could strengthen our ability to understand the factors that lead to the success or failure of environmental stewardship in different contexts and how to most effectively support and enable local efforts. Here we propose such a definition and framework. First, we define local environmental stewardship as the actions taken by individuals, groups or networks of actors, with various motivations and levels of capacity, to protect, care for or responsibly use the environment in pursuit of environmental and/or social outcomes in diverse social–ecological contexts. Next, drawing from a review of the environmental stewardship, management and governance literatures, we unpack the elements of this definition to develop an analytical framework that can facilitate research on local environmental stewardship. Finally, we discuss potential interventions and leverage points for promoting or supporting local stewardship and future applications of the framework to guide descriptive, evaluative, prescriptive or systematic analysis of environmental stewardship. Further application of this framework in diverse environmental and social contexts is recommended to refine the elements and develop insights that will guide and improve the outcomes of environmental stewardship initiatives and investments. Ultimately, our aim is to raise the profile of environmental stewardship as a valuable and holistic concept for guiding productive and sustained relationships with the environment.

Reference: Bennett, N. J., Whitty, T. S., Finkbeiner, E., Pittman, J., Bassett, H., Gelcich, S., & Allison, E. H. (2018). Environmental Stewardship: A Conceptual Review and Analytical Framework. Environmental Management. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0993-2 (OPEN ACCESS)
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Why local people do not support conservation: Community perceptions of marine protected area livelihood impacts, governance and management in Thailand

An Open Access article titled “Why local people do not support conservation: Community perceptions of marine protected area livelihood impacts, governance and management in Thailand” was recently published in Marine Policy (Link to the article and PDF of article)

Article Abstract

Conservation success is often predicated on local support for conservation which is strongly influenced by perceptions of the impacts that are experienced by local communities and opinions of management and governance. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are effective conservation and fisheries management tools that can also have a broad array of positive and negative social, economic, cultural, and political impacts on local communities. Drawing on results from a mixed-methods study of communities on the Andaman Coast of Thailand, this paper explores perceptions of MPA impacts on community livelihood resources (assets) and outcomes as well as MPA governance and management. The area includes 17 National Marine Parks (NMPs) that are situated near rural communities that are highly dependent on coastal resources. Interview participants perceived NMPs to have limited to negative impacts on fisheries and agricultural livelihoods and negligible benefits for tourism livelihoods. Perceived impacts on livelihoods were felt to result from NMPs undermining access to or lacking support for development of cultural, social, political, financial, natural, human, physical, and political capital assets. Conflicting views emerged on whether NMPs resulted in negative or positive marine or terrestrial conservation outcomes. Perceptions of NMP governance and management processes were generally negative. These results point to some necessary policy improvements and actions to ameliorate: the relationship between the NMP and communities, NMP management and governance processes, and socio-economic and conservation outcomes.

This and other publications can be found on my publications page: https://nathanbennett.ca/publications/