What is Landscape Conservation?

Landscape conservation is an innovative and essential new conservation paradigm.

Landscape conservation is the rapidly growing practice of people working together across large geographies, regardless of political boundaries, to conserve our natural and cultural heritage and ensure a sustainable future for both people and nature.

Landscape conservation initiatives are long-term efforts generally characterized by a focus on: (1) conservation of connected, healthy ecological systems; (2) use of science-based and culturally sensitive conservation planning; (3) collaborative network structure (formal or informal); and (4) meaningful multi-sector stakeholder engagement.

Landscape conservation is about building a collective conversation and concomitant action on how we wish to shape our relationship with the land we live on and that is vital to sustain us and all future generations.

Work at the landscape scale is defined by three principles that represent a fundamental shift in traditional conservation thinking.

  1. A shift in geographic scale. Decades of scientific research have built an emerging systems-level understanding of the natural world and have underscored the importance of habitat connectivity across scales. To sustain biodiversity and ecological function, conservation must transcend arbitrary boundaries and move beyond a site-specific, parcel-by-parcel approach.
  2. A shift in perspective. Wildlands, farmlands, timberlands, tribal lands, places of cultural and historical significance, rural communities, urban areas, and other private and public lands are all part of a fully integrated whole — a landscape — and do not exist independent of one another. The landscape conservation perspective is that the entire landscape, private to public, developed to wild, must be considered in a thoughtful and integrated manner.
  3. A shift in understanding of process. Landscape scale conservation crosses jurisdictional and topical boundaries, transcending the traditional decision-making process and top-down hierarchy. Instead, landscape conservation is generally characterized by a horizontal process and collaborative governance structure with long-term participation by a broad and meaningful diversity of stakeholders.

Landscape conservation is also called “large landscape conservation” or “landscape scale conservation.”