Sustainable Land Stewardship and Leadership - (15 credits)

Used in the context of natural resources, the term stewardship means, in its broadest sense, people taking care of the earth. Sustainable land stewardship is a strategy designed to protect the natural environment in all forms of managed rural landscapes, including agriculture, forestry and non-productive green infrastructure. The approach adopted is participatory, involving landowners and users and with the support of a wide range of civil society groups. Through the implementation of voluntary agreements between landowners/users and land stewardship organisations, nature, biodiversity, ecological integrity and landscape, values will be maintained and restored. The methods employed generally focus on encouraging landowners, individuals and families, businesses, municipalities and other organisations and users (e.g. farmers, hunters, fishers) to transition from traditional practices towards systems that restore and recover natural attributes fundamental for the effective functioning of ecosystems. Without these, the services and benefits derived from healthy ecosystems are greatly diminished and will ultimately impact on human well-being. Though stewardship tools may be employed to restrict the use of specific ecologically sensitive (biodiversity-rich) areas, they also are used to restrict certain practices such as intensive agricultural, forestry or amenity practices or to maintain or restore others (e.g. extensive agriculture, use of ecologically sensitive lands). A stewardship approach is distinct from strictly protected area management as the intention is to maintain productivity within ecologically defined boundaries of acceptable operation. In this module students will apply theories and principles of systems thinking, circular economics and regenerative land use practices within the rural landscape, particularly, in agriculture and forestry.