HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Harvey Brooks Research Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development


Ecosystem stewardship is an action-oriented framework intended to foster the social–ecological sustainability of a rapidly changing planet. Recent developments identify three strategies that make optimal use of current understanding in an environment of inevitable uncertainty and abrupt change: reducing the magnitude of, and exposure and sensitivity to, known stresses; focusing on proactive policies that shape change; and avoiding or escaping unsustainable social–ecological traps. As we discuss here, all social–ecological systems are vulnerable to recent and projected changes but have sources of adaptive capacity and resilience that can sustain ecosystem services and human well-being through active ecosystem stewardship.


Chapin, F. Stuart III, Stephen R. Carpenter, Gary P. Kofinas, Carl Folke, Nick Abel, William C. Clark, Per Olsson, D. Mark Stafford Smith, Brian Walker, Oran R. Young, Fikret Berkes, Reinette Biggs, J. Morgan Grove, Rosamond L. Naylor, Evelyn Pinkerton, Will Steffen, and Frederick J. Swanson. "Ecosystem Stewardship: Sustainability Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Planet." Trends in Ecology & Evolution 25.4 (April 2010): 241-249.