Land 2019, 8(6), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060098
At the 2018 meeting of the Permanent European Conference for the Study of the Rural Landscape (PECSRL), that took place in Clermont-Ferrand and Mende in France, the Institute for Research on European Agricultural Landscapes e.V. (EUCALAND) Network organized a session on traditional landscapes. Presentations included in the session discussed the concept of traditional, mostly agricultural, landscapes, their ambiguous nature and connections to contemporary landscape research and practice. Particular attention was given to the connection between traditional landscapes and regional identity, landscape transformation, landscape management, and heritage. A prominent position in the discussions was occupied by the question about the future of traditional or historical landscapes and their potential to trigger regional development. Traditional landscapes are often believed to be rather stable and slowly developing, of premodern origin, and showing unique examples of historical continuity of local landscape forms as well as practices. Although every country has its own traditional landscapes, globally seen, they are considered as being rare; at least in Europe, also as a consequence of uniforming CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) policies over the last five decades. Although such a notion of traditional landscapes may be criticized from different perspectives, the growing number of bottom-up led awareness-raising campaigns and the renaissance of traditional festivities and activities underline that the idea of traditional landscapes still contributes to the formation of present identities. The strongest argument of the growing sector of self-marketing and the increasing demand for high value, regional food is the connection to the land itself: while particular regions and communities are promoting their products and heritages. In this sense, traditional landscapes may be viewed as constructed or invented, their present recognition being a result of particular perceptions and interpretations of local environments and their pasts. Nevertheless, traditional landscapes thus also serve as a facilitator of particular social, cultural, economic, and political intentions and debates. Reflecting on the session content, four aspects should be emphasized. The need for: dynamic landscape histories; participatory approach to landscape management; socioeconomically and ecologically self-sustaining landscapes; planners as intermediaries between development and preservation.
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