The term ‘stewardship’ has historically been used in ‘Western’ societies in
reference to the human-environment relationship. Its use today in popular
environmental discourse is widespread but not well documented.
Through a historical literature review of stewardship involving multidisciplinary
sources, several meanings associated with the use of the term were identified and
organized into a typology of meanings over time. The emerging meaning was then
compared to the results of interviews with representatives of eleven self-identified
Alberta public sector ‘stewardship’ organizations. The purpose of the interviews was to
identify what stewardship practitioners in Alberta mean by the use of the term
stewardship. The results showed strong agreement on the meaning of stewardship
and its defining characteristics among the stewardship groups and with the typology
created from literature review. Specifically, contemporary stewardship is described as
a values-based collaborative practice that is focused on environmental conservation
and community capacity building.