Our Mission

To provide observations and information on the emerging fields of landscape scale conservation, heritage preservation, and sustainable community development.

About Us
the observer


Stay up-to-date with the latest nature, culture and community news.


We won’t spam you or share your information. Newsletters are sent approximately 10 times a year. Unsubscribe at any time.

Popular Posts
Get Involved


One of the goals of the Living Landscape Observer is to share information on the wealth of large landscape models that overlay the iconic lands of our nation and many regions around the globe.  The landscape models inventoried on this site offer a range of innovative approaches to practitioners interested in nature conservation, historic preservation, community and heritage development and the management of regional landscapes.

As starting point, the models are categorized by either the values they seek to manage or their programmatic framework. They often overlap. Some examples have been included, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. International models, outside of North America, are grouped together as a category until more examples can be gathered. This inventory of landscape models is just beginning. The Observer is seeking information on new models, additions to the list and other comments, ideas and clarifications.

Agricultural Landscapes – By definition these are lived in landscapes that reflect the complex and ever shifting relationship of man and the environment.

Conservation Landscapes – These landscapes range from large forested or range-land environments to mountainous and scenic areas, but the primary value for which they are associated is conservation of the natural environment and associated ecosystem benefits.

Cultural Landscapes – The term cultural landscape encompasses a broad range of resources from designed landscapes, to large naturalistic parks, to living landscapes and to those landscapes that represent intangible values.

Ecosystems – Some of the largest scale landscape projects encompass whole ecosystems or watersheds. It was the environmental and land conservation world that pioneered ecosystem thinking and today recognized the critical interconnections between species and habitat.

Heritage Areas – One of the most well known landscape scale models, heritage areas are geographic regions that are distinctive combination of natural and cultural heritage.

Industrial Landscapes– The heritage area idea opened the door to the conservation of other large scale cultural  resources such as waterways, canal systems, and associated industrial sites that were previously seen as just too big to be national parks.

International Models – A wide variety of initiatives and programs exist outside of North America. These include the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and the Regional Nature Parks in France.

Partnership Parks – Nationally significant large landscapes can be preserved and made accessible to the public through a variety of partnership park models. These collaborative approaches to resource management often encompass natural and cultural resources close to large population centers including places where people live and work.

Regional Planning Models – A metropolitan area, a watershed, or an area defined by its ecological or cultural factors. Regional planning is a tool for both conserving of resources and managing growth.

Trail Systems – The National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management all play a role in managing dozens of nationally designated trails that crisscross the nation.

River Systems – Includes rivers, streams and  waterways recognized by state and federal programs. The  best known is the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. Under this program’s authority, the National Park Service manages 32 of the more than 150 designated wild and scenic rivers in the nation.