Land stewardship is a strategy that involves landowners and users in the conservation of nature and landscape, with support and inputs from a wide range of civil society groups. Through voluntary agreements between land owners/users and land stewardship organisations (also known as land trusts), land stewardship is used in most of the world as a nature and biodiversity management and conservation tool.
The stewardship approach offers a means of extending conservation practices particularly beyond the boundaries of conventional protected areas, and is an especially helpful concept in the many instances where sustainable management — rather than absolute protection or preservation — of natural resources is the objective.
[Photo: GOB - Menorca]
The essence of land stewardship
When used with respect to natural resources, the term stewardship means — in its broadest sense — people taking care of the land. The concept encompasses a range of private and public/private approaches to create, nurture and enable responsibility in users and owners to manage and protect land and natural resources.
Land stewardship can be widely used in Europe as a practical tool to implement biodiversity conservation, to complement and reflect the priorities of many different policies and legal instruments, including key objectives to halt biodiversity loss and secure the common interest of all Europeans to share a healthy environment. It can help create opportunities for nature conservation in individual Member States as well as regions, and also contribute to biodiversity conservation across Europe by directly involving citizens.
Read more about the concept of land stewardship in the online Land Stewardship Manual.