Environmental Stewardship Footprint Research: Linking Human Agency and Ecosystem Health in the Puget Sound Region
Urbanization processes challenge ecosystem health in many metropolitan areas. New policy and program approaches are needed to restore and sustain natural systems as public agencies and organizations face greater demands and declining budgets. Environmental stewardship is an often overlooked intervention strategy, and the full potential of civic engagement by citizens on behalf of ecosystem health is little understood. Using a coupled systems approach, integrated analysis of social and ecological footprints can lead to greater theoretical understanding and more effective programs at the landscape scale. Here we outline two pilot studies as part of an emergent research program that is investigating the extent and impact of environmental stewardship. Qualitative interviews of stewardship managers revealed multiple dimensions of motivations and purposes for stewardship, ranging from the practical to the conceptual. A regional organization census yielded a surprisingly large number of organizations that conduct stewardship, with social and ecological values being of comparable emphasis. The initial research is based in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, U.S., but results have relevance to other urban areas. Pilot study findings now guide additional research effort about motivations, organizational networks, and theory of integrated socio-ecological systems to be derived from comprehensive footprint analysis of stewardship activity.
Wolf, K.L., Blahna, D., Brinkley, W. & Romolini, M. (2013). Environmental Stewardship Footprint Research: Linking Human Agency and Ecosystem Health in the Puget Sound Region. Urban Ecosystems 16:13-32.