Cultural Landscapes Blog

A digital platform which seeks to highlight research, to engage practitioners from the field, to showcase best practices, and contribute to discussions.

Cultural Landscapes Blog

Priority questions for landscape research in Europe

24 June 2016/by Mónica Hernández/Tags: prioritization exercise, landscape, research

Priority questions for landscape research in Europe

If you would like to shape the future agenda of European landscape research, please participate in our prioritization exercise!

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Workshop: The potential of labelling in landscape management

21 June 2016/by Carsten Mann/Tags: labelling, landscape governance, sustainability

Workshop: The potential of labelling in landscape management

Green Week 2016 in Brussels – the large annual conference on European environmental policy – was accompanied by the third EU-level workshop of our HERCULES project. This workshop explored ideas of labelling for sustainable landscape management. In particular it seeks to elaborate how labelling can be applied for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage in landscapes – and what can be learnt for respective governance processes. Together with around 30 participants from the European institutions, government agencies, NGOs, businesses, and academia, we explored characteristics of labelling initiatives in Europe and their contributions as governance innovations to sustainable land management. So what did we learn? Here are some random thoughts from the workshop:

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Lesvos workshop: Validation of an agent-based landscape change model

7 June 2016/by Cecilia Zagaria/Tags: agent-based landscape change model, stakeholder engagement, dialogue

Lesvos workshop: Validation of an agent-based landscape change model

On April 21st, during the last Consortium Assembly, a workshop was organized with local stakeholders in Pappados, a village overlooking the Eastern Bay of Gera in the island of Lesvos, Greece. This was the third workshop on the Case Study island and aimed to present and discuss the findings of local project work undertaken throughout the previous summer while also hoping to validate an agent-based landscape change model. Maps depicting alternative landscape futures for the region and assumptions of the model were discussed and debated with locals, primarily farmers, in a lively event that lasted well over its scheduled meeting time.

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A HERCULES meeting on Lesvos

10 May 2016/by Thanasis Kizos/Tags: workshop, case study, research

A HERCULES meeting on Lesvos

As the project is reaching a point where a lot of the research work has been finished or its end is in sight and the balance shifts towards synthesis, reflection and recommendation, we met on Lesvos from the 18th to the 21st of April.

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Ice-roads and seasonal horses

12 April 2016/by Anu Printsmann/Tags: oral history, ice-roads, Estonia

Ice-roads and seasonal horses

The last weekend of March in 2016 saw hummock or pressure ice (rüsijää or jäärüsi in Estonian) on the shores of Lake Peipus (Peipsi järv in Estonian and Чудское озеро [Chudskoe ozero] in Russian) by the former Kodavere parish beach, HERCULES Study Landscape in Estonia. A phenomenon much appreciated by photographing tourists and feared due to destruction by locals bringing back memories of fieldwork on human-lake ecosystem interactions.

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Forest Landscape Restoration for a Sustainable Future

25 March 2016/by Chantal van Ham and Bianca Vergnaud, IUCN/Tags: forest landscape restoration, sustainability, The Bonn Challenge

Forest Landscape Restoration for a Sustainable Future

Forests provide crucial services for human well-being and economic development. They provide food, freshwater and fuel, support soil formation, regulate floods, climate and diseases, and can fill educational, medicinal, aesthetic and spiritual needs. They stabilize ecosystems, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods, and supply other goods and services that drive sustainable growth. Yet, forests are under stress from overexploitation, pollution, population pressure and the expansion and intensification of agricultural practices. With the additional impacts of climate change, forests are further threatened, and these adverse events may further impact land quality – leading to biodiversity loss, food insecurity, increased pests, reduced availability of clean water and increased vulnerability to environmental changes.

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Making effective use of case studies: The Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review vol. 1

7 March 2016/by William Dunbar/Tags: case studies, landscape management, enhancing knowledge

Making effective use of case studies: The Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review vol. 1

We are all familiar with the idea of “case studies” as one of the means used in many kinds of projects and publications for demonstrating conditions and practices in landscape management. Case studies can show what does and does not work, provide lessons that may or may not be replicable in different landscapes, or just contain basic information that adds to the overall knowledge base. Just collecting this kind of information can itself be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. But how many of us actually take the time to comb through others’ collections of case studies? Without careful thought to how relevant information can be effectively extracted and used, there is a risk that case study collection will result in a glut of data from which it is impossible to gain useful knowledge. With this in mind, the first volume of the “Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review” (SITR) was recently published, containing insights from analysis of landscape-management case studies that should be useful to many Cultural Landscapes Blog readers.

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How landscape and nature management offer multiple benefits in an intensive-farmland

23 February 2016/by Trisha Franke and Ben Delbaere/Tags: agricultural landscapes, ecosystem services, farmland consolidation

How landscape and nature management offer multiple benefits in an intensive-farmland

The value of agricultural areas goes far beyond food services. When management is set to enhance various natural elements like valuable roadside vegetation, buffer strips nearby streams, orchards and hedgerows in agricultural landscapes, these areas can provide a multitude of other services to society.

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Land use intensity as a link between culture and biodiversity

11 February 2016/by Thanasis Kizos and Matthias Bürgi/Tags: Land use, culture, biodiversity

Land use intensity as a link between culture and biodiversity

In recent years, the term biocultural diversity has been promoted to raise awareness for the interrelationship between culture and biodiversity. This term is on one hand compelling, as it is obvious that culture has been shaped by the natural context, and in turn has left traces in this natural context. However, it is hard to conceptualize and to envision how much this approach may contribute to a deeper understanding of and for the diversity of life on earth.

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Glacier melting and perceived landscape change

26 November 2015/by Matthias Müller, Matthias Bürgi/Tags: climate change, cultural landscape change, land cover

Glacier melting and perceived landscape change

Glaciers are a fascinating landscape feature of alpine regions. As such, they are perceived and valued by locals and tourists alike. Today, the public at large is aware that most of these alpine glaciers are melting, a lot of them at an alarming rate. This development started with the end of the little ice age around 1850 and in recent years has greatly accelerated due to anthropogenic climate change.

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Long-term local initiatives and the importance of keeping them alive. An example from Colmenar Viejo (Spain)

4 November 2015/by Maria Garcia Martin/Tags: local initiative, photo contest, stakeholder collaboration

Long-term local initiatives and the importance of keeping them alive. An example from Colmenar Viejo (Spain)

Since 1987 Colmenar Viejo (Spain) organises an annual photo contest that has grown in quality and importance to reach international impact. Photographers of the standing of Enrique López-Tapia de Inés, Isabel Díaz San Vicente and Juan Tebar Carrera have participated and been awarded in this contest since its beginnings. This year, the main price has been a trip to Antarctica on a historic sailing boat; and due to the synergies built between the municipality and HERCULES (Colmenar Viejo is one of the Study Landscapes of the project) the main topic of the contest has been the landscapes of Colmenar Viejo.

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They wrote about us: Europe’s landscapes – a better view

6 October 2015/by Ruth Ivory, at the request of DG Research and Innovation, European Commission/Tags: EU-funded project, landscape preservation, fieldwork,

They wrote about us: Europe’s landscapes – a better view

Europe contains landscapes that are breathtakingly beautiful – and essential for wildlife, communal activities, human wellbeing and local economies. An EU-funded project brings together data on how these landscapes are changing, to help manage them wisely for the long term. Think of the most beautiful regions in Europe, such as the petrified forests of Lesvos or the Armorique in Brittany. Over the years, these landscapes – and many others – have changed. Today, modern land use, the rural exodus to cities and the expansion of towns are altering them faster than ever before.

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Multi-functional field margins in agriculture landscapes

30 September 2015/by Romano De Vivo/Tags: agriculture landscapes, field margins, biodiversity, EFAs

Multi-functional field margins in agriculture landscapes

Food production has increased many folds since the advent of sophisticated farm inputs, better farm management practices, and technologies delivering greater food security around the world - saving over a billion people from starvation. Agriculture has involved developing high-yielding crop varieties, expanding irrigation infrastructure, modernizing management techniques, distributing hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and crop protection to farmers. Since then, agriculture has seen big changes in production methods, including increased mechanization and farm consolidation. These developments have been accompanied by reductions or even the removal of margins, hedges, ponds, and other uncultivated areas rich in biodiversity.

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Art and responsible landscape development: A plea for landscape art

22 September 2015/by Lars Fischer/Tags: landscape development, landscapes art,

Art and responsible landscape development: A plea for landscape art

Landscapes are spaces that have been appropriated, imprinted, and divided through the efforts of humans. Whether farmer, forester, fisher, conservationist, local politician, tourism manager or simply a resident, such people put value on and use the natural and culturally created potential of landscapes in very different ways that seem to inevitably lead to conflict. Thus, it would appear that a responsible approach to landscape development can only be successfully brought into existence through a process of collective debate, discussion and even argument between various kinds of people. Landscape art offers myriad possibilities for providing potent impulses that can enable people with their own specific ideas, experiences, and knowledge to take part in the debates and discourse on how to shape the landscapes they are involved in.

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Whither HERCULES? Some midterm thoughts

17 September 2015/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: HERCULEs, collaborative project, inter- and transdisciplinary integration

Whither HERCULES? Some midterm thoughts

A few days ago, HERCULES project partners met in Tallinn / Estonia to reflect on how the project has proceeded during the first half of its lifetime. Drawing on some of the discussions during these three days, I’d like to highlight some personal views on the achievements and challenges of this project.

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Share your experiences of Good Landscape Management

4 September 2015/by Brian James Shaw/Tags: landscape stewardship, good management practices, landscape community

Share your experiences of Good Landscape Management

The HERCULES project would like to announce the launch of HERCULES Labs, our new online tool for the landscape community to browse and share ideas about good practices in landscape management. A key objective of the HERCULES project is to strengthen the collaborative network of the landscape community. One way to do this is through the collection and dissemination of good landscape practices. We have developed an online tool called HERCULES Labs where members of the landscape community, be they practitioners, policy makers or scientists, can view a diverse range of good practices and initiatives that we have already gathered in our work, as well as add their own ideas and perspectives.

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A New LIFE+ for an Old Landscape

26 August 2015/by Robert de Graeff/Tags: pond area, LIFE+, restoration, revitalization

A New LIFE+ for an Old Landscape

The Pond Area, a protected Natura 2000 site, situated in the heart of Belgium’s Limburg province, represent an old landscape that has been revitalised through the efforts of landowners, cities, nature organisations and the Flemish state. Together, these different groups have worked to restore and repurpose a landscape that grew out of the Middle Ages and now contains an extraordinary variety of biodiversity and landscapes – one can travel from pond to marsh to dry heath in 15 minutes by foot.

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How is restoration relevant to stewardship?

4 August 2015/by Peter Bridgewater/Tags: restoration, stewardship, management, ecosystem services

How is restoration relevant to stewardship?

Can Landscape Stewardship really include restoration? Even more the concept of novel systems and their management? The upcoming workshops on the implementation of the European Landscape Convention in October have the sub-title “the landscape knows no boundaries”. That is true, but it is as true in time as it is in space, and that’s where restoration, and management of novelty, become important….

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The Eh da-Initiative: A Project to Support Bees in Agricultural Landscapes

7 July 2015/by Christoph Künast/Tags: biodiversity, habitat management, agricultural landscapes,

The Eh da-Initiative: A Project to Support Bees in Agricultural Landscapes

Biodiversity protection needs space, and this resource is sparse in most agricultural landscapes. The Eh da-initiative which started in Germany raises the question if more space than generally considered for bees (wild bees as well as honeybees) in agricultural landscapes is available, how this space - if it should be available - can be used, and how an initiative in order to promote bees can be implemented.

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Which role for hunting, angling, and gathering wild products in landscape stewardship?

30 June 2015/by Nynke Schulp/Tags: wild food, traditional and local knowledge, recreational activity

Which role for hunting, angling, and gathering wild products in landscape stewardship?

Throughout Europe, numerous examples exist of traditional dishes that depend on local wild plants, mushrooms, or game meat. Traditional cuisines are commonly developed based on the locally available products, and in many European regions this comprised a wealth of food collected from the wild. Picking berries, plants, or mushrooms, hunting, and angling, are important activities and possibilities for doing so are strongly related to landscape management. Should wild food collecting be considered in landscape stewardship, and which possibilities exist for that?

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Linking cultural and natural capital: “Building a community of practice”

24 June 2015/by Costa Carras/Tags: cultural capital, natural capital, heritage

Linking cultural and natural capital: “Building a community of practice”

If instead of the destructive instrumentalism in relation to a natural world stripped of its value in the search of financial resources to satisfy human beings’ demand for pleasure, power and profit, which has prevailed in recent centuries, human imagination and creativity acknowledge the inherent value in other beings, the results are often precious examples of synergy and symbiosis between various elements of nature and human culture.

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An EU-level Workshop on Landscape Stewardship

17 June 2015/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: landscape stewardship, policy, rural development, EU level workshop

An EU-level Workshop on Landscape Stewardship

Green Week 2015 (www.greenweek2015.eu) in Brussels – the large annual conference on European environmental policy – was accompanied by the second EU-level workshop of our HERCULES project. This workshop addressed a central issue of the project: The emergence of collaborative approaches to landscape stewardship across Europe. Together with around 50 participants from the European institutions, government agencies, NGOs, businesses, and academia, we intended (1) to explore the characteristics of landscape stewardship initiatives in Europe and their contributions to sustainable land management, (2) to discuss the role of landscape stewardship in EU rural development policies, and (3) to examine how Europe could contribute towards making innovative models of landscape stewardship more effective. So what did we learn? Here are my random thoughts:

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Who is responsible for landscape stewardship on farm land?

9 June 2015/by Marianne Penker/Tags: landscape stewardship, land use, stewardship goals,

Who is responsible for landscape stewardship on farm land?

Many rural landscapes are shaped by centuries of agricultural land use. As agricultural land use practices change, landscapes transform. In fact, transformation is a key-characteristic of any agricultural landscape. Most of these transformations occur without major notice. Others, however, are perceived as unwelcome and result in requests for landscape stewardship interventions. But who is responsible for defining the stewardship goals and the interventions needed for agricultural landscapes, for implementing and bearing the extra efforts or forgone profits?

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Marine and coastal ecosystem stewardship

26 May 2015/by Karen Alexander, Jasper Kenter, Ruth Brennan/Tags: Marine ecosystem, coastal ecosystem, stewardship

Marine and coastal ecosystem stewardship

Our seas and coasts are an asset with rich and varied resources, living and non-living, which support livelihoods, provide a sense of place and identity and define cultures. Degradation of coral reef ecosystems, overfishing, increased resource extraction - the need for improved stewardship of coastal and marine resources is increasingly evident around the globe. But what does marine and coastal stewardship mean and how can we apply stewardship in these environments?

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Citizen science tools for engaging local stakeholders in landscape stewardship

19 May 2015/by Cathy Conrad/Tags: local stakeholder engagement, citizens, landscape stewardship

Citizen science tools for engaging local stakeholders in landscape stewardship

Citizen science has played an increasingly important role in recent decades as the top-down approach to natural resource management has been rejected due to its social, environmental, and economical unsustainability. An alternative approach to top-down management that recognizes community stewards and citizen science programs as valuable partners in management and regulatory decision-making is recommended in the literature as a best practice in resource management, and the significance of its emerging role highlighted. This shift is reflected globally through policy initiatives of the United Nations such as Agenda 21 or the Aarhus Convention, which emphasized that the environmental challenges faced by societies worldwide cannot be dealt with by public authorities alone.

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Ecological Foundations of Landscape Stewardship

5 May 2015/by F. Stuart Chapin III/Tags: stewardship; connectivity; ecological integrity and human wellbeing; ecosystem services

Ecological Foundations of Landscape Stewardship

As society seeks to meet the needs of a growing human population and rising aspirations for economic consumption, there has been a corresponding global decline in biodiversity and other benefits that society receives from ecosystems. These changes have accelerated over the last sixty years and may be approaching or exceeding the limits of tolerable environmental change. Given the extensive nature and difficulty of regulating these changes, the rules that govern society’s relationship with the biosphere must be radically redefined in order to promote a healthy and sustainable human-earth relationship.

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New archaeological site was discovered in Kodavere parish, Estonia

29 April 2015/by Krista Karro/Tags: archaeological site;

New archaeological site was discovered in Kodavere parish, Estonia

At the end of March a local heritage-interested man Peeter Kiuru, who had previously conducted the heritage culture project in Alatskivi municipality, found a new archaeological site in Kodavere parish. It is a fine example of responsible metal detecting in Estonia.

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Building Partnerships for Landscape Stewardship

21 April 2015/by Sara J. Scherr, Louise E. Buck/Tags: landscape stewardship, stakeholder engagement

Building Partnerships for Landscape Stewardship

A defining feature of integrated landscape management is long-term multi-stakeholder partnership among different groups of land managers and resource users. Agreeing on and sustaining good landscape stewardship at scale builds on effective partnerships at multiple levels. These ideas are not new, and thousands of landscape initiatives are underway today around the world based on multi-stakeholder partnership models. Methods and tools have been developed to support partners who come from very different perspectives to collaboratively assess their landscapes, negotiate priority objectives, design strategies and interventions, sustain partnership processes and monitor for adaptive management. Policymakers at national and international levels are beginning to recognize the value of landscape partnerships, with their focus on local development, social, environmental and cultural priorities, for shaping high-level strategies to achieve national goals and ensure we live within planetary ecosystem boundaries.

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Exploring ecosystem-change and society through a cultural landscape lens

15 April 2015/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: ong-term landscape history; landscape change; landscape values; landscape stewardship

Exploring ecosystem-change and society through a cultural landscape lens

A while ago, the HERCULES project was endorsed by the ICSU/UNESCO-Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) a global initiative to strengthen place-based, long-term social–ecological case studies. As a contribution to a special issue on PECS in “Ecology & Society”, the HERCULES partners have reflected on the contributions of cultural landscape research to the study of ecosystem change and society.

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Human and social dimensions of landscape stewardship

29 March 2015/by Elisabeth Conrad/Tags: landscape stewardship,

Human and social dimensions of landscape stewardship

Our landscapes; our privilege; our responsibility. This is, simply put, the concept of landscape stewardship. As the word itself suggests, a stewardship approach implies that we manage our landscapes and the resources contained therein not only assuming that we have rights (typical of owners) but also on a realization that we have corresponding duties (typical of caretakers). It is an approach fundamentally based on several core tenets of sustainability, intra and intergenerational equity, inclusiveness, and the safeguarding of critical ecosystem services among them.

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Introducing landscape stewardship

13 March 2015/by T. Plieninger &/Tags:

Introducing landscape stewardship

While governance for cultural landscapes has traditionally followed a preservationist direction (meaning that valuable landscapes were simply put under legal protection), there has been a recent trend towards collaborative action, for which the term “stewardship” is frequently used. Stewardship is relevant at all kinds of spatial levels (from very local ones up to “planetary stewardship”) and in many different sectors (for example, there is “agricultural stewardship”, “forest stewardship”, or “environmental stewardship”). Here, we introduce the term „landscape stewardship“ into the HERCULES project to describe all collaborative efforts toward landscape sustainability. But what exactly are the implications of landscape stewardship?

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The role of cultural ecosystem services in landscape management and planning

11 March 2015/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: well-being, landscape change, landscape values

The role of cultural ecosystem services in landscape management and planning

A central tenet of the HERCULES project is that landscapes are important components of individual and societal well-being. However, people value landscapes for a variety of reasons (and these are often in conflict with each other; some people appreciate a landscape’s potential to generate wind energy, while others are fond of the aesthetic values of landscapes). In the past decades, there has been a strongly growing demand for the intangible values of landscapes, called “cultural ecosystem services”. These can be cultural heritage values, the sense of place that people ascribe to a landscape, or the potential of a landscape for tourism and recreation. The growth of private and public nature reserves, tourism facilities, second homes, hobby farms, and residential homes in the countryside can all be understood as land uses stimulated by cultural ecosystem services.

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Making a Community Plan

5 March 2015/by Peter Howard/Tags: community plan, European Landscape Convention, local

Making a Community Plan

No attempt to implement the European Landscape Convention can be successful without knowing what is important to local people. In the UK the demand for a more locally focussed agenda is being met in part by the making of Community Plans, typically for a village and the land surrounding, which form a parish. In the deeper countryside, this administrative parish is often coterminous with the ecclesiastical parish centred on the parish church, and that is so in Winkleigh, the village in the middle of Devon, in South West England, which is the subject of this article.

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How do Europeans appreciate agrarian landscapes? Generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences

18 February 2015/by Boris van Zanten/Tags: agrarian landscapes, cross-disciplinary, landscape policies

How do Europeans appreciate agrarian landscapes? Generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences

Europe is known for its abundant and diverse cultural landscapes. In many places, the cultural or aesthetic value of these landscapes is threatened by either intensification or abandonment of agricultural practices. The effects of these processes have been addressed by local landscape preference case studies which have yielded a patchy and heterogeneous collection of evidence. This meta-study compares case studies in order to find generic and spatial patterns of landscape preferences.

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Dear Oliver... some thoughts on the loss of Oliver Rackham

16 February 2015/by Thanasis Kizos and M/Tags:

Dear Oliver... some thoughts on the loss of Oliver Rackham

We still remember the field trip: on Lesvos at the PECSRL on a footpath from Asomatos village to Agiassos village in the Olympus range (the other Olympus not the “original” one...). One of us was the so-called 'last in line' in the field trip, responsible for all those that stayed behind for some reason. It was the last day and many people wanted to do the trip and drive back to Mytilini to fly home. The other one was the guide leading the group and we had planned to make this a 2hr trip. We did it, the first of the group that is; the last were 2 ½ hrs behind. We were not lazy or slow, but we had Oliver Rackham with us at the back of the queue. We had met Oliver before once, and had known and enjoyed his books, but this was the first time we were in the field with him. We know that some people are still angry, as they had to wait for us to arrive to Agiassos before the bus would leave, but it was both an unforgettable and enjoyable experience.

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Tree of the Year contest: looking for a tree rooted in the people’s landscape

2 February 2015/by Ana Canomanuel/Tags: local natural heritage

Tree of the Year contest: looking for a tree rooted in the people’s landscape

The Tree of the Year contest was initiated four years ago in the Czech Republic by Nadace Partnerství and it is now organized by the Environmental Partnership Association, with the aim of highlighting the significance of old trees in the natural and cultural heritage. The contest search for trees with particular stories connected to the communities in which they grow, trees that have become a part of people’s lives and serve as a community-gathering element.

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What Can The Knowledge Hub Do For You?

21 January 2015/by Pip Howard/Tags: Knowledge Hub, mapping tool

What Can The Knowledge Hub Do For You?

The Knowledge Hub is an interactive online mapping tool, which enables any and all to record information; audio, text, photographs, film etc., and fix it to a specific location or area. This creation of multiple layers of information has the potential to provide nothing less than an evolving ‘Atlas of Landscapes’ for Europe.

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How to Build an ‘Ancient Monument’ in a ‘National Landscape’

12 January 2015/by David Harvey/Tags: ancient, monument, national landscape

How to Build an ‘Ancient Monument’ in a ‘National Landscape’

Ideas and perceptions of both ‘landscape’ and ‘heritage’ lie at the heart of how identity politics are expressed and negotiated. In terms of where and how interpretations and practices of landscape and heritage come together, the most common thing to do is to categorise them along neatly bounded and essentialised spatial frameworks – usually that of the nation – in a self-referential manner. A landscape, therefore, becomes ‘Greek’ (or ‘French’, or ‘English’ or ‘Swedish’); nationalised by virtue of its supposedly self-evident ‘national’ heritage. These are heritage-landscapes that are taken for granted; that are pre-defined; and which answer questions – indeed, they must not be questioned. These are also landscapes that are usually ‘time-tagged’ – branded as ‘early modern’, ‘medieval’ or ‘ancient’; packaged so as to fit present-centred management agendas. These elements of national and temporal ‘branding’ are brought neatly together in ‘national parks’ and ‘national monuments’ – as though carefully managed 21st century landscapes and monuments are somehow not residing in the present, but actually are somehow still in the ‘medieval period’ or ‘Bronze Age’; and that Bronze Age, or perhaps Neolithic people were actually consciously ‘English’ (or ‘German’ or ‘Finnish’): consciously acting, building and maintaining these landscapes and monuments according to some sort of rule book of national performance ritual.

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Recent heritage in the Alatskivi municipality, Kodavere parish

5 December 2014/by Peeter Kiuru/Tags: heritage inventory, heritage objects

Recent heritage in the Alatskivi municipality, Kodavere parish

The State Forest Managment Centre in Estonia took part in an extensive Estonian-Latvian co-operation project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to draw attention to the forgotten cultural heritage objects of recent centuries.

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Help us to develop a European review on Landscape Initiatives!

27 November 2014/by Maria Garcia Martin/Tags: Landscape Initiatives, European review

Help us to develop a European review on Landscape Initiatives!

Landscape Initiatives foster the provision of a broad range of landscape services (such as nature conservation, sustainable and local food production, increase of local income in rural areas, preservation of traditions or historical features of landscape, etc). Having an overview of these initiatives in Europe could contribute towards making them more effective, enabling a better management of their resources and to take advantage of their potentials and to mitigate their constraints. Moreover, an exchange of experiences and ideas may be enabled, helping to inform current landscape-related policy processes, as well as national policies and regional planning. It will be particularly helpful in the context of achieving a transition towards sustainability, where Landscape Initiatives play a crucial role.

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What causes rural land use change in Europe?

24 November 2014/by Jasper van Vliet/Tags: Cultural landscapes, driving forces, landscape management

What causes rural land use change in Europe?

A large share of the European land is agricultural and this agricultural land has changes considerably over the last few decades. Such land use changes are the result of local conditions, such as local policy measures, cultural values, accessibility, and the local climate. Many case studies have been published that describe local land use changes. This study collected available case study evidence to find general patterns in agricultural land use change in Europa and the processes causing these changes.

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Gardening the Cultural Landscapes of European Heritage

7 November 2014/by David Harvey/Tags: Cultural heritage, landscapes, heritage categorisation

Gardening the Cultural Landscapes of European Heritage

I was recently invited to present a seminar paper in Amsterdam, at the annual HERCULES Consortium Meeting. Bringing together geographers, ecologists, archaeologists, sociologists and anthropologists from a dozen or more countries, this project is concerned with ensuring the resilience of heritage within the cultural landscape of Europe. They are doing this task by assessing existing knowledge and management systems and developing tools for ongoing landscape observation and modelling, bringing together some sophisticated GIS applications with a variety of quantitative material (including remote sensing, land-use and census data), and qualitative material (including old postcards and oral histories). Furthermore, they also have an ambition to define some recommendations for landscape policy and practice, engaging with a range of stakeholders, policy makers and ordinary people.

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About forestry and landscape thinking

23 October 2014/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: forestry, forest science, World Forest Congress, landscape approach

About forestry and landscape thinking

Being a forest scientist by training, I recently attended the IUFRO World Forest Congress in Salt Lake City / US. With almost 4000 participants, this was probably the biggest assembly of foresters that the world has ever seen. I must admit that, being mainly involved in social-ecological landscape research, I am slightly in danger of losing my forestry roots. Indeed, this was the first forestry congress that I have been to in the past 10 years.

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Foodscapes: The Land Use Ecology and Culinary Practices of Food in Cultural Landscapes

2 October 2014/by Karl Zimmerer/Tags: foodscapes, food, social functions

Foodscapes: The Land Use Ecology and Culinary Practices of Food in Cultural Landscapes

Food is among the elements most integral to the cultural landscapes of the European Union and its member countries. Through food, the peoples of European countries actively produce and draw substance and meaning from cultural landscapes. This realization is at the heart of recent and still expanding food cultures and movements in Europe and throughout the world. It is also relevant to current interests and projects on the EU’s cultural landscapes, where the role of food traverses the marvelous scenes of heritage-type and officially designated landscapes-such as those of the terroir products-to those of diverse and often similarly compelling non-heritage sites.

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Visioning for recoupling social and ecological landscape components: A report of the PECSRL workshop

29 September 2014/by Thanasis Kizos/Tags: PECSRL, workshop, diversity, landscape

Visioning for recoupling social and ecological landscape components: A report of the PECSRL workshop

The Permanent Conference for the Study of the Rural landscape (PECSRL, http://www.pecsrl.org/) is according to its statement “an international network of landscape researchers whose interest focus on the past, present and future of European landscapes, and its members (and many others) meet every two years in a different European country for a Conference that is alive and vibrant for 26 meetings (from 1957!). The people that attend these Conferences reflect the wide diversity of the landscape concept itself, from historical geography to landscape ecology and beyond. Its most recent meeting was this September in Gothenburg and Mariestad (http://www.pecsrl2014.com/).

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European wood-pastures as cultural landscapes

11 September 2014/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: wood-pastures, cultural landscapes

European wood-pastures as cultural landscapes

Cultural landscapes, the object at the heart of the HERCULES project, are shaped by long-lasting, intensive and complex interactions between people and nature. This interaction has generated values that are appreciated by society, nowadays called “landscape values“ or “ecosystem services“, but many of these cultural landscape values are in decline.

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New maps reveal large variation in the use of ‘wild food’ across Europe

28 August 2014/by Dr C.J.E. Schulp/Tags: wild food, ecosystem services

New maps reveal large variation in the use of ‘wild food’ across Europe

Wild food is an iconic, sometimes debated but also often enjoyed ecosystem service. Many people enjoy gathering wild plants, fruit or mushrooms, or like to go on a hunting trip. Even more people like to consume food from the wild. Over the past years, in many countries the attention for wild food has been increasing. “Celebrity cooks” use and promote the use of wild plants; cooking magazines feature more wild food in their recipies to more and more people go out and collect wild plants for consumption.

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“Field boundaries are the most important letters of our landscape”

11 August 2014/by E. J. Mooiweer/Tags: Cultural Landscapes, CAP, greening, landscape features, field boundarie

“Field boundaries are the most important letters of our landscape”

Last year the Dutch Association for Cultural Landscapes published ‘Beautiful Europe’, a book concerning changing cultural landscapes, climate change and nature in isolation. It was presented and distributed to many representatives of the European Commission and Parliament. In this context, this article discusses the baseline of greening the CAP and the protection of landscape features on farmland in Europe.

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What is Historical Ecology?

24 July 2014/by Carole Crumley/Tags: historical ecology, archaeology, anthropology

What is Historical Ecology?

The record of human entry into the planetary system begins much earlier than the Industrial Revolution or the end of World War II. Below ground, where archaeologists focus their attention, this longer history is about the intimate details of the human affair with Earth. For millennia people have altered their surroundings by using fire, propagating certain species of plants and animals, building dams that change the course of rivers, clearing land, and generally making themselves at home—and in the process altering the course of human evolution itself.

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Sustaining cultural landscape values. The need for a mature ecosystem services approach

7 July 2014/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: cultural landscapes; driving forces; ecosystem services; landscape management; socio-cultural valuation

Sustaining cultural landscape values. The need for a mature ecosystem services approach

Until recently much of the research on global land-use change was focused on ‘wild’ lands and the shifting agricultural frontier, reporting trends such as deforestation, desertification, disappearance of wetlands, or burning of peatland. In the HERCULES project we acknowledge that we live in a ‘post-wild’ world today. Therefore, we need to pay equal – or if not more – attention to sustaining the values of the many landscapes of the world that have been shaped by human agency over centuries. In a recent special feature of the Ecology & Society journal, we draw attention to the fate of cultural landscapes, seeking to engage with generic processes of change by adopting and adapting an ecosystem services approach that is sensitive to local context.

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Linkages between landscapes and human well-being

20 June 2014/by Claudia Bieling/Tags: Cultural landscape values, ecosystem services, human well-being

Linkages between landscapes and human well-being

What makes life good is one of humankind’s most fundamental questions. Given recent experiences of extreme droughts, soil degradation and a multitude of other existent or foreboding ecological crises around the world, there is increasing acknowledgement that human well-being is tightly linked to the natural environment. However, empirical studies that address this topic in a comprehensive manner have only recently evolved, most notably with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA 2005). Following a landscape approach with a focus on the cognitive dimension of the human-nature nexus, the HERCULES researchers Claudia Bieling and Tobias Plieninger, together with Heidemarie Pirker and Christian R. Vogl, address this topic in a new paper in “Ecological Economics” (Bieling et al. 2014, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.05.013).

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THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN CULTURAL LANDSCAPES

3 June 2014/by David King/Tags: human element, cultural landscapes, research project, local benefits

THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN CULTURAL LANDSCAPES

I would imagine that the concept of ‘cultural landscapes’ is not immediately obvious to the average person. So why would the European Commission want to support a collaborative research project to protect and manage cultural landscapes, called the HERCULES project? Some clarity was provided at the first Stakeholder Workshop on the project, organised by the European Landowners Organization in Brussels late last month.

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Landscape and Heritage – Two Opposing Systems

7 May 2014/by Peter Howard/Tags: cultural landscape values, heritage

Landscape and Heritage – Two Opposing Systems

HERCULES is a European project so we need to pay close attention to the definition of landscape in the European Landscape Convention, even if the EU and the Council of Europe (which promoted the convention) are different organisations. But Hercules not only concerns landscape, but also heritage, and there is also a World Heritage Convention within which are World Heritage Cultural Landscapes. I want to suggest that the concepts of landscape (and indeed of heritage) within these two conventions are very different indeed, and largely oppose each other. This creates difficulties for us, which so far do not appear to be much resolved.

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A blog on cultural landscapes

7 April 2014/by Tobias Plieninger/Tags: EU project, landscape, heritage

A blog on cultural landscapes

We appreciate cultural landscapes – those landscapes of distinct human shape that surround us – for many different motivations, whether as cultural heritage, arena for recreation, or for their environmental virtues. Many cultural landscapes are undergoing major changes, with agriculture and urbanization being the most important drivers of change in Europe. There is widespread concern that increasing standardisation puts the social and ecological values of cultural landscapes at risk. At the same time, integrated approaches to cultural landscapes – combining safeguarding of biodiversity and ecosystem services, agricultural commodity production, rural development, and heritage conservation within landscapes – are increasingly recognised for their potential to the solution of many of today’s global challenges and for their contributions to people’s identity and quality of life.

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