Landscape architecture as stewardship of the land

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) states that “Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments.” For me, there are two problems with this as a definition of landscape architecture: (1) ‘encompasses’ is a weak term – I would prefer a definition of landscape architecture (2) I feel uneasy with the term ‘stewardship’, possibly because my peasant ancestors suffered at the hands of harsh stewards employed by bullying barons.

In an interesting article on Steward Leadership in the Public Sector, Marilyn J. Smith writes that “The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stewardship as, “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something: Especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1999). For Christians, stewardship began when God gave Adam dominion over the Garden of Eden. Even prior to the Bible, the ancient Greeks, Buddha, and Lao Tqu articulated the same concept (Spears, 1998: pp. 162-3).”   Her comment is well-intentioned but deepens my uneasiness (1) I do not see landscape architecture as an essentially public sector activity (2) I can’t help remembering Ian McHarg’s  comment on the Book of Genesis that ‘If you want to find one text which if believed and employed literally, or simply accepted implicitly, without the theological origins being known, will explain all of the destruction and all of the despoliation accomplished by Western man for at least these 2,000 years, then you do not have to look any further than this ghastly, calamitous text.’

See also: definitions of landscape architecture

One thought on “Landscape architecture as stewardship of the land

  1. Christine

    It is hard to underestimate either the value or the impact of information,innovation and ideas.[] The Fractional Code for land mapping enabled the recording of a greater quantity of land data on maps. The Montford study made this system simpler by the innovative use of coding. The idea underpinning the desire to collate this information in particular ways was to advance the field of ‘agriculture’. It would be expected then that there is a relationship between the means and the ends?


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