What is Landscape Conservation?

Our natural landscapes are essential — for clean water, healthy ecosystems, vibrant communities and economies, climate resilience, cultural heritage, outdoor recreation, and local sense of place. Conserving intact landscapes means working together — at the larger scale that makes an enduring difference.

Landscape conservation is an approach that brings people together across geographies, sectors, and cultures to collaborate on conserving our important landscapes and the myriad ecological, cultural, and economic benefits they provide. This highly collaborative practice embraces the complexity of working at scale to connect and protect our irreplaceable landscapes – across public and private lands, and from our cities to our wildest places.

This essential, new conservation paradigm represents a fundamental shift in traditional conservation thinking on three levels:

  • 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, ecological function, and climate resilience, conservation must transcend arbitrary boundaries and move beyond a site-specific, parcel-by-parcel approach.
  • 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 or public, developed to wild, must be considered in a thoughtful and integrated manner.
  • A shift in process: Landscape conservation crosses jurisdictional and topical boundaries, transcending traditional decision-making processes and top-down hierarchies. The landscape conservation approach is generally characterized by a horizontal process and collaborative governance structure with long-term participation by a meaningful diversity of stakeholders.

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