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Environmental Stewardship is a broad term that can be applied to a wide range of activities and initiatives. It can refer to strict conservation measures to protect and preserve ecosystems, to active restoration efforts that aim to restore damaged habitats, or to sustainable resource management and use. It can also mean individual choices to live sustainably, and minimize the negative impact of human activities (Missouri Botanical Garden, offsite link). Stewardship is possible at many scales, from local to global in both urban and rural contexts.

There is increasing emphasis on involving local communities and resource users in environmental stewardship programs, policies and practices around the world through initiatives like community-based conservation (CBC) as well as community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) Indigenous and community-conserved areas (ICCAs), locally managed marine areas (LMMAs), sustainable livelihoods, and other forms of community-based conservation and development projects (Cattermoul et al. 2008; Bennett 2010).

The success of these efforts will be contingent on a variety of variables such as:

For example, in communities that still rely on harvesting certain mega-faunas, it might not be feasible to implement strict conservation measures that completely exclude these species from the ecosystem (Gavin et al. 2015). In these instances, implementing conservation measures that do not allow for harvesting could be viewed by some communities as being antithetical to their cultural identity. In certain cultural contexts, strict conservation measures or restrictions on harvesting could be seen as an intrusion of private rights and cause social tension. 2017).