Regional Landscape System Protection in the Urbanising Desert Southwest: Lessons from the Phoenix Metropolitan Region, USA

  • Laura Musacchio University of Minnesota
  • Joseph Ewan Arizona State University
  • Ruth Yabes Arizona State University


Since the late nineteenth century, landscape protection in the deserts of the Southwest, United States of America, like many places worldwide, has been driven by the conservation of landscape icons, such as unusual geological features in wilderness areas. Yet, in the past two decades, leading conservation scholars worldwide have called for a shift in this paradigm to one that emphasises landscape systems, which is based on holistic landscape ecology. The shift in emphas is to landscape systems opens new opportunities to protect desert landscape systems at the regional scale rather than just remnant patches at the local scale. In this paper, the authors present, for public consideration, a typology of the five major desert landscapes that can be used as the bas is for protecting regional landscape systems in the deserts of the Southwest. As a case study, several representative examples of recent regional open space plans from the Phoenix metropolitan area are analysed and compared with the typology in order to understand how successfully the projects have addressed protection of the regional landscape system in the Sonoran Desert.
Abstracts of papers presented