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Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Laninga, Tamara Jean

Second Advisor

Darby, Kate J.

Third Advisor

Farrell, Sharon Diane


Conservation goals that transcend political boundaries and integrate social-ecological systems are foundational to an emerging field of research and practice called landscape conservation. A nationwide example of a landscape conservation strategy is the Biden administration’s “30 by 30” goal and related “America the Beautiful (ATB) initiative.” The national 30 by 30 goal aims to protect 30 percent of the United States’ (U.S.) terrestrial lands, fresh waters, and ocean waters by 2030. To accomplish the objectives outlined in the ATB initiative and 30 by 30 goal, practitioners and scholars put forth recommendations to design a durable and effective national framework for landscape conservation in the U.S. These recommendations bring up a series of questions related to the ability of a nationwide framework to support a variety of geographic scales and political levels and whether a framework is desired by the communities it aims to serve. Concerns about durability of such a framework in an era of political uncertainty also abound. To address these questions, I conducted participant observation at existing events and performed twenty-two interviews with professionals in the field of landscape conservation in the U.S., including representatives from county, state, tribal nations, federal government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. This study explores perspectives of desire and need for a national framework for landscape conservation and what would make such a framework durable and effective. Further, this research examines the actors and their activities within the landscape conservation movement in the U.S. Although participants’ perspectives differ on whether a new national framework for landscape conservation is necessary, most agree that there is a need and timely opportunity to create an empowering vision for landscape conservation that centers locally led efforts and previously excluded communities. Further, there is a strong desire to connect existing efforts across the U.S., provide financial and technical resources to coordinate and connect those efforts, and achieve the 30 by 30 goal through its organizing. Time is of the essence and the political will is ripe.




landscape conservation, 30x30, national framework, collaborative conservation, networks


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Landscape protection--United States; Nature conservation--United States; Environmental justice--United States; Conservation of natural resources--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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