From top-down to grassroots: chronicling the search for common ground in conservation in the West.

Published online
25 May 2016
Content type

Charnley, S.
Contact email(s)

Publication language


Sustainable working landscapes are critical to the conservation of biodiversity in the American West and its cultures of rural ranching and forestry. Given the West's patchwork of public, private, and tribal lands, perhaps the best way to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem function on a large scale is through a process of collaborative conservation. These are the two central arguments of the 2014 book Stitching the West Back Together, co-edited by Susan Charnley, an environmental anthropologist with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. The book is written by ranchers, foresters, and community group leaders, along with agency and university researchers. It tells of the long struggle and more recent success in finding common ground around conservation issues in the West. Central to the book are stories of conservation entrepreneurs who, according to the introduction, are "pushing the boundaries of regulatory and policy frameworks and social norms that often operate as constraints to innovation." There are no easy answers, and Charnley and her co-editors eschew prescriptive solutions in favor of examples reflecting the trial-and-error realities of collaborative conservation - examples they hope will provide inspiration to others working to conserve their own corner of the West.

Key words