Integrating science of natural and cultural resources for landscape-scale conservation design and planning is an important effort for solving complex socioecological problems. Despite recognition that culture and nature are not distinct categories, this division remains influential in North American conservation policies, practices, and management. The North American Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) aimed to develop long-term landscape-scale conservation priorities integrating both natural and cultural resources through multi-stakeholder, regional partnerships. During 2017–2018, we conducted ethnographic fieldwork and key informant interviews with Appalachian LCC (AppLCC) partners. Here we examine the general strategies, goals, and values of the AppLCC to understand how cultural and natural resources were incorporated into partnership activities. We find that both conceptual and practical barriers exist for integrating cultural and natural resource information and values for landscape-scale conservation planning. Future large-landscape conservation partnerships looking to integrate conservation strategies would benefit from increasing the diversity of institutional representation and examining how cultural and natural resource projects are relatively prioritized. In addition, greater reflection on the ideology of conservation, theory of cultural resource management, and the value of cultural resources may improve conservation outcomes. By expanding the definition of cultural resources, greater connections with natural resource management priorities and strategies can be identified and leveraged to advance integrated conservation. These challenges and potential pathways to integrated conservation are examined through the lens of the AppLCC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law