Land Stewardship constitutes a practical tool for nature and biodiversity conservation that involves landowners and users (farmers, shepherds, etc.) through voluntary agreements with land stewardship organizations. As an approach, it provides an effective means to engage local stakeholders in the direct implementation of core nature conservation policies also integrated with other policy priorities in areas such as agriculture, rural development and social cohesion.
Stewardship is a flexible and adaptive approach. It utilizes a wide variety of tools and resources and involves many different stakeholders, especially landowners, businesses, organizations, NGOs and users. One of the strengths of the stewardship approach is that all society groups can use it or participate in some way, whilst it may lead to modernization of the agricultural lands’ management, supporting sustainable ecological agriculture and forestry through innovative or traditional practices.
Nowadays, land stewardship is deployed in most continents around the world as a tool for management and conservation of nature and biodiversity. In Europe, it can be more widely used as a practical tool to implement and complement many different policies and legal instruments of biodiversity conservation. It can help to create opportunities for nature conservation in individual Member States and regions, and contribute to biodiversity conservation across Europe by directly involving people (LIFE and Land Stewardship).
Through LIFE TERRACESCAPE project, land stewardship will be utilized as a strategic method that encourages active participation of local bodies and land users, in order to enable them to get involved with the conservation of nature and landscape of Andros. This innovative approach for our country involves voluntary cooperation of small landowners, farmers, local management bodies, research institutions, and local businesses to implement environmental-friendly cultivation practices and protect the agricultural landscape with contemporary, socially and economically sustainable practices. For this purpose, a Land Stewardship Organization will be established on Andros to facilitate the participation of terraced land owners and users, providing legal and technical support to the relevant actions and creating a partnership between the public and private stakeholders to be involved. For the expansion of this sustainable approach, a continuous effort will be made in order to convey the expertise of the local groups to the rest of the Aegean islands.
To successfully implement this approach, there will be a cooperation with European land stewardship organizations such as the XTC (Xarxa de Custodia der Territori) organization. With its great experience in implementing such actions, XTC will be able to convey its expertise to our project. XTC was the coordinator of LIFE LANDLIFE (www.landstewardship.eu) A successfully implemented project during 2011-2014 in Spain. As a result LANDLIFE contributed to the standardization of the land stewardship concept in Europe, created online and physical spaces to exchange and promote expertise on land stewardship and share experiences, and it directly trained technicians on land stewardship. In addition it provided training information to stewardship organizations, as well as public and private entities through a manual, a toolkit and a helpdesk. It also involved citizens in activities related with land stewardship and nature conservation under a common motto and promoted the signature of new land stewardship agreements.
Racinska, I., Barratt, L., Marouli, C. (2015). LIFE and Land Stewardship. Current status, challenges and opportunities. Report to the European Commission. 209 pp.
Sabaté, X., Basora, X., O’Neill, C., and Mitchell, B. (2013). Caring together for nature. Manual on land stewardship as a tool to promote social involvement with the natural environment in Europe. LandLife documents. 177 pp.
The project is implemented with the financial support of the European Commission.