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Open AccessArticle

A Relational Approach to Landscape Stewardship: Towards a New Perspective for Multi-Actor Collaboration

1
Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Makhanda (Grahamstown) 6140, South Africa
2
Environmental Learning Research Centre, Department of Education, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Makhanda (Grahamstown) 6140, South Africa
3
Institute for Water Research, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Makhanda (Grahamstown) 6140, South Africa
4
Living Lands, P.O. Box 2153, Clareinch 7740, South Africa
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Geography Department, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Makhanda (Grahamstown) 6140, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2020, 9(7), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070224
Received: 15 May 2020 / Revised: 24 June 2020 / Accepted: 24 June 2020 / Published: 10 July 2020
Landscape stewardship is increasingly understood within the framing of complex social-ecological systems. To consider the implications of this, we focus on one of the key characteristics of complex social-ecological systems: they are relationally constituted, meaning that system characteristics emerge out of dynamic relations between system components. We focus on multi-actor collaboration as a key form of relationality in landscapes, seeking a more textured understanding of the social relations between landscape actors. We draw on a set of ‘gardening tools’ to analyse the boundary-crossing work of multi-actor collaboration. These tools comprise three key concepts: relational expertise, common knowledge, and relational agency. We apply the tools to two cases of landscape stewardship in South Africa: the Langkloof Region and the Tsitsa River catchment. These landscapes are characterised by economically, socio-culturally, and politically diverse groups of actors. Our analysis reveals that history and context strongly influence relational processes, that boundary-crossing work is indeed difficult, and that doing boundary-crossing work in smaller pockets within a landscape is helpful. The tools also helped to identify three key social-relational practices which lend a new perspective on boundary-crossing work: 1. belonging while differing, 2. growing together by interacting regularly and building common knowledge, and 3. learning and adapting together with humility and empathy. View Full-Text
Keywords: boundary-crossing; integrated landscape management; multi-stakeholder collaboration; relational agency; relationality; social-ecological systems boundary-crossing; integrated landscape management; multi-stakeholder collaboration; relational agency; relationality; social-ecological systems
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cockburn, J.; Rosenberg, E.; Copteros, A.; Cornelius, S.F.; Libala, N.; Metcalfe, L.; van der Waal, B. A Relational Approach to Landscape Stewardship: Towards a New Perspective for Multi-Actor Collaboration. Land 2020, 9, 224. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070224

AMA Style

Cockburn J, Rosenberg E, Copteros A, Cornelius SF, Libala N, Metcalfe L, van der Waal B. A Relational Approach to Landscape Stewardship: Towards a New Perspective for Multi-Actor Collaboration. Land. 2020; 9(7):224. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070224

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cockburn, Jessica; Rosenberg, Eureta; Copteros, Athina; Cornelius, Susanna F.; Libala, Notiswa; Metcalfe, Liz; van der Waal, Benjamin. 2020. "A Relational Approach to Landscape Stewardship: Towards a New Perspective for Multi-Actor Collaboration" Land 9, no. 7: 224. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070224

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