Sustainability and Natural Landscape Stewardship: A US Conservation Case Study

  • Johanna Kovarik


The terms “natural” and “landscape” encompass a range of interpretations and definitions, particularly when discussed in terms of sustainability. Key issues center on the complexity and lack of consistency in geographic, biologic, or temporal boundaries and scales for what defines a particular ecosystem condition, and dynamics of the presence and influence of humans. This evolving exchange about “what is natural” illustrates the changing cognizance and values of society for maintaining ecosystems. The roots of sustainability can be traced to early forestry, and the policies of the US Forest Service provide a case study for examining the coalescence of the domains of sustainability into the agency’s mission today. The environmental policies of the US government reflect the country’s struggle toward an ecological conscience.


Natural landscapes Sustainability Conservation Natural resource management US Forest Service 

Further Reading

  1. Allen, S.D., D.A. Wickwar, F.P. Clark, R.R. Dow, and R. Potts. 2009. Values, Beliefs, and Attitudes Technical Guide for Forest Service Land and Resource Management, Planning, and Decision-Making. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, Craig R., Joseph J. Fontaine, Kevin L. Pope, and Ahjond S. Garmestani. 2011. Adaptive Management for a Turbulent Future. Journal of Environmental Management 92 (5): 1339–1345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrews, Richard N. 2006. Managing the Environment, Managing Ourselves: A History of American Environmental Policy. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Behan, R.W. 1978. Political Popularity and Conceptual Nonsense: The Strange Case of Sustained Yield Forestry. Environmental Law 8: 309–342.Google Scholar
  5. Brabyn, Lars. 2009. Classifying Landscape Character. Landscape Research 34 (3): 299–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brundtland, Gro Harlem. 1987. World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. World Commission for Environment and Development. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, Kelly F., and Tomas M. Koontz. 2005. Theory into Practice: Implementing Ecosystem Management Objectives in the USDA Forest Service. Environmental Management 35 (2): 138–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Callicott, J. Baird. 2000. Harmony Between Men and Land—Aldo Leopold and the Foundations of Ecosystem Management. Journal of Forestry 98 (5): 4–13.Google Scholar
  9. Chazdon, Robin L., Pedro H.S. Brancalion, Lars Laestadius, Aoife Bennett-Curry, Kathleen Buckingham, Chetan Kumar, Julian Moll-Rocek, Ima Célia Guimaraes Vieira, and Sarah Jane Wilson. 2016. When Is a Forest a Forest? Forest Concepts and Definitions in the Era of Forest and Landscape Restoration. Ambio 45 (5): 538–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cole, David N., Laurie Yung, Erika S. Zavaleta, Gregory H. Aplet, F. Stuart III Chaplin, David M. Graber, Eric S. Higgs, et al. 2008. Naturalness and Beyond: Protected Area Stewardship in an Era of Global Environmental Change. The George Wright Forum 25: 36–56.Google Scholar
  11. David, A. Paul, and Gavin Wright. 1997. Increasing Returns and the Genesis of American Resource Abundance. Industrial and Corporate Change 6 (2): 203–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Du Pisani, Jacobus A. 2006. Sustainable Development–Historical Roots of the Concept. Environmental Sciences 3 (2): 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dubay, Tayloe, Dave Egan, Evan E. Hjerpe, Wendy Selig, Dave Brewer, Dana Coelho, Zachary Wurtzebach, Courtney Schultz, and Amy EM Waltz. 2013. Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Handbook. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University Ecological Restoration Institute.Google Scholar
  14. Ellis, Erle C., Kees Klein Goldewijk, Stefan Siebert, Deborah Lightman, and Navin Ramankutty. 2010. Anthropogenic Transformation of the Biomes, 1700 to 2000. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19 (5): 589–606.Google Scholar
  15. Fairweather, John R., and Simon R. Swaffield. 1999. Public Perceptions of Natural and Modified Landscapes of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. Lincoln: Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University.Google Scholar
  16. Fernow, Bernhard E. 1902. Economics of Forestry: A Reference Book for Students of Political Economy and Professional and Lay Students of Forestry. New York: Crowell.Google Scholar
  17. Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team. 1993. Forest Ecosystem Management: An Ecological, Economic, and Social Assessment: Report of the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team. Washington DC.Google Scholar
  18. Forman, Richard T.T. 1995. Some General Principles of Landscape and Regional Ecology. Landscapeecology 10 (3): 133–142.Google Scholar
  19. Frome, Michael. 1997. Battle for the Wilderness. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.Google Scholar
  20. Glacken, Clarence J. 1967. Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Goudie, Andrew S. 2013. The Human Impact on the Natural Environment: Past, Present, and Future. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  22. Hahn, W. Andreas, and Thomas Knoke. 2010. Sustainable Development and Sustainable Forestry: Analogies, Differences, and the Role of Flexibility. European Journal of Forest Research 129 (5): 787–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hornborg, Alf, John Robert McNeill, and Juan Martínez Alier. 2007. Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change. Lanham: Rowman Altamira.Google Scholar
  24. Huffman, James L. 1978. A History of Forest Policy in the United States. Environmental Law 8 (2): 239–280.Google Scholar
  25. Jorling, Thomas C. 1976. Incorporating Ecological Principles into Public Policy. Environmental Policy and Law 2 (3): 140–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kulikoff, Allan. 1989. The Transition to Capitalism in Rural America. The William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of Early American History 46: 120–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Landres, Peter B., Peter S. White, Greg Aplet, and Anne Zimmermann. 1998. Naturalness and Natural Variability: Definitions, Concepts, and Strategies for Wilderness Management. In Wilderness and Natural Areas in Eastern North America, 41–52. Nacogdoches: Center for Applied Studies in Forestry, Stephen F. Austin State University.Google Scholar
  28. Landres, Peter B., Penelope Morgan, and Frederick J. Swanson. 1999. Overview of the Use of Natural Variability Concepts in Managing Ecological Systems. Ecological Applications 9 (4): 1179–1188.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, Robert G. 1994. Broken Trust, Broken Land: Freeing Ourselves from the War Over the Environment. Wilsonville: Bookpartners.Google Scholar
  30. Leopold, Aldo. 1989. A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There. Outdoor Essays & Reflections. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 1992. The River of the Mother of God: And Other Essays by Aldo Leopold. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  32. Lewis, S.L., and M.A. Maslin. 2015. Defining the Anthropocene. Nature 519 (7542): 171–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maccleery, Douglas W., John Fedkiw, and Alaric V. Sample. 2004. Pathway to Sustainability: Defining the Bounds on Forest Management. Durham: The Forest History Society.Google Scholar
  34. Merchant, Carolyn, ed. 2005. Major Problems in American Environmental History: Documents and Essays. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  35. Miller, Char. 1997. American Forests: Nature, Culture, and Politics (Development of Western Resources). Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  36. Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, 86-517, 74 Stat. 215.Google Scholar
  37. National Park Service Organic Act of 1916, 64-, 39 Stat. 535.Google Scholar
  38. Newbold, Tim, Lawrence N. Hudson, Andrew P. Arnell, Sara Contu, Adriana De Palma, Simon Ferrier, Samantha L.L. Hill, et al. 2016. Has Land Use Pushed Terrestrial Biodiversity Beyond the Planetary Boundary? A Global Assessment. Science 353 (6296): 288–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Noss, Reed F. 1991. Sustainability and Wilderness. Conservation Biology 5 (1): 120–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. ———. 1993. Some Principles of Conservation Biology, as they Apply to Environmental Law. Chicago-Kent Law Review 69: 893.Google Scholar
  41. Palka, Eugene J. 1995. Coming to Grips with the Concept of Landscape. Landscape Journal 14 (1): 63–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pinchot, G. 1998. Breaking New Ground. Washington DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  43. Ruddiman, William F. 2013. The Anthropocene. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 41: 45–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Samson, F.B., and F.L. Knopf. 2013. Ecosystem Management: Selected Readings. New York: Spring Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
  45. Schmithüsen, F. 2013. Three Hundred Years of Applied Sustainability in Forestry. Unasylva 64 (240): 3–11.Google Scholar
  46. Schoonmaker, Peter K., and David R. Foster. 1991. Some Implications of Paleoecology for Contemporary Ecology. The Botanical Review 57 (3): 204–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sedjo, R.A. 2000. A Vision for the US Forest Service: Goals for Its Next Century. Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future.Google Scholar
  48. Shrader-Frechette, Kristin S., and Earl D. McCoy. 1995. Natural Landscapes, Natural Communities, and Natural Ecosystems. Forest & Conservation History 39 (3): 138–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Steen, Harold K. 2013. The US Forest Service: A Centennial History. Washington, DC: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  50. Steffen, Will, Åsa Persson, Lisa Deutsch, Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Katherine Richardson, Carole Crumley, et al. 2011. The Anthropocene: From Global Change to Planetary Stewardship. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 40 (7): 739–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sundry Civil Appropriations Act of 1897 (Organic Act of 1897), 55-1, 30 Stat. 34-36.Google Scholar
  52. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, 91-190, 83 Stat. 852.Google Scholar
  53. The Sustained Yield Forest Management Act of 1944, 78-273, 58 Stat. 132.Google Scholar
  54. Thomas, Jack Ward. 1996. Forest Service Perspective on Ecosystem Management. Ecological Applications 6 (3): 703–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Transfer Act of 1905, 59-, 33 Stat. 628.Google Scholar
  56. U.S. Forest Service Centennial Congress, and S. Anderson. 2006. Proceedings of the U.S. Forest Service Centennial Congress: A Collective Commitment to Conservation: January 3–6, 2005. Durham: Forest History Society.Google Scholar
  57. USDA Forest Service. 2011. National Report on Sustainable Forests—2010 United States Department of Agriculture. Washington DC.Google Scholar
  58. ———. 2015. USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan: FY 2015–2020. Washington DC.Google Scholar
  59. Wiens, John A., and Bruce T. Milne. 1989. Scaling of ‘Landscapes’ in Landscape Ecology, or, Landscape Ecology from a Beetle’s Perspective. Landscape Ecology 3 (2): 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wiersum, K. Freerk. 1995. 200 Years of Sustainability in Forestry: Lessons from History. Environmental Management 19 (3): 321–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wilderness Act of 1964, 88-577, 78 Stat. 890.Google Scholar
  62. Williams, G.W. 2005. The USDA Forest Service: The First Century. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service.Google Scholar
  63. Worster, D. 1993. The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Kovarik
    • 1
  1. 1.University of South FloridaTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations