Special Issue "Rural Landscape, Nature Conservation and Culture"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability of Culture and Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Mauro Agnoletti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory for Landscape and Cultural Heritage, School of Agriculture, University of Florence, Via San Bonaventura 13, 50145, Firenze, Italy
Interests: rural landscape

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The development model promoted in the last decades has not only shown to be ineffective to solve the economic problems of many rural areas, but also contributed to the loss of cultural values associated to rural communities. This has brought to the degradation of valuable landscapes shaped by several generations of farmers, to the abandonment of millions of hectares of farmed land and to urbanization processes, creating social degradation and increasing urban sprawl. As one of the human activities which has a direct relationship with nature and environment, agriculture and forestry are  often considered as some of the main drivers of the negative trend that is being followed, representing the greatest immediate threat to species and ecosystems. In fact, unsustainable farming and forest practices result in land conversion leading to soil erosion and degradation, habitat loss, genetic erosion, inefficient use of water, pollution impacting wild and human life. Nevertheless, when agriculture is practiced in a sustainable way, it can preserve landscape, biocultural diversity, protect watersheds, and improve soil health and biodiversity. In fact, the use of sustainable ecological practices is a key feature distinguishing resilient rural landscapes developed over centuries, based on cultural values and proven traditions. This kind of landscapes may be considered as less productive from modern-intensive systems, but it has ensured sustainable yield over time, thanks to time-tested technologies and traditional know-hows, using reduced external energy inputs. Furthermore, food production practices associated to the quality of landscape and tourism, may represent a fundamental added value for the competitiveness of many rural areas not suited for industrial agriculture. Considering the sustainable development goals and the need to combine human development with the conservation of the environment, reducing global warming, there is the need identify new models capable of integrating economic, social and environmental process, providing a new vision for the future of the planet. The special issue aims at collecting research papers discussing these topics.

Prof. Dr. Mauro Agnoletti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • rural landscape
  • cultural landscape
  • rural development
  • nature conservation
  • biocultural diversity
  • planning and management

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Scarecrow as an Indicator of Changes in the Cultural Heritage of Rural Poland
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6857; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236857 - 02 Dec 2019
Abstract
Scarecrows were commonly featuredin rural landscapes until recently. There are numerous rituals associated with creating a scarecrow and erecting it in the field, with many legends being linked to this character.The scarecrow itself has counterparts in many countries worldwide. However, with civilisation progressingand [...] Read more.
Scarecrows were commonly featuredin rural landscapes until recently. There are numerous rituals associated with creating a scarecrow and erecting it in the field, with many legends being linked to this character.The scarecrow itself has counterparts in many countries worldwide. However, with civilisation progressingand characterised withan emphasis on economic efficiency and agricultural engineering in the present day, scarecrows are disappearing from the rural landscape. Advanced electronic devices replace them, while scarecrows end up in museums and open-air museums calledskansens, as well as beingon display at local village festivals. The goal of this paper is to investigate the past and present functions of the scarecrow in rural areas in Poland as an indicator of changes occurring inthe cultural heritage in these areas. The survey and field studies were carried out in selected localities in Małopolskie Voivodeship that exhibited distinct qualities related to rural cultural heritage. The study involved photographic documentation and a diagnostic survey using the structured direct interview technique. The interview focused on local community leaders. Resultingly, scarecrows were demonstrated to be an essential indicator of changes in Poland’s rural cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Landscape, Nature Conservation and Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring Traditional Rural Landscapes. The Case of Italy
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6107; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216107 - 02 Nov 2019
Abstract
The importance of rural landscapes is recognized at both the international and national level. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has established a program called Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and agricultural landscapes are also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. [...] Read more.
The importance of rural landscapes is recognized at both the international and national level. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has established a program called Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and agricultural landscapes are also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The World Bank and the Convention on Biological Diversity also have departments working on this topic, while landscape has been included in the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union 2020–2027. One of the most important tools for landscape management, conservation and valorization is the development of a monitoring system, suited to control not only dynamics, but also the effectiveness of the policies affecting rural landscape. A research project of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies has identified 123 areas scattered in the entire Italian territory, with an average size of 1300 ha, in order to establish a national monitoring system for traditional rural landscapes. As a result of this national survey, the Ministry decided to establish the National Register of Historical Rural Landscapes, that is also the Italian list for potential application to GIAHS. These landscapes are characterized by a long history, presence of traditional practices, typical foods, complex landscape mosaics and high biocultural diversity. Detailed land use maps have been produced for each area, and among other data, the average number of land use types (19.6 ha) and the average patch size (2.7 ha) detected, confirm the fine grain of these landscapes characterized by high complexity and diversity of the landscape structure. A second survey was carried out five years later, in order to create a national monitoring system based on fixed study areas. The paper shows that in the last five years no major changes occurred, and even in the 33 areas where transformations are considered significant (i.e., >5% of the surface of the area), the characteristic features of the historical landscape are still well preserved. This confirms the resilience of these systems despite climatic and socioeconomic pressures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Landscape, Nature Conservation and Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
Study on the Sustainable Development of Human Settlement Space Environment in Traditional Villages
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4186; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154186 - 02 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The sustainability of the human settlement space environment is an eternal subject of human exploration. There hides the idea of human settlement space in an externally displayed material environment. This paper takes Dai villages in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan as the research object. Dai villages [...] Read more.
The sustainability of the human settlement space environment is an eternal subject of human exploration. There hides the idea of human settlement space in an externally displayed material environment. This paper takes Dai villages in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan as the research object. Dai villages are the place where the ancestors of Dai people live, produce, and collectively construct human settlement, production, and spirit. Taking field investigation data and maps of Dai settlement areas as data sources, this paper explores Dai people’s view of human settlement space, analyzes the spatial cultural connotation of Dai villages, and the concept of sustainable human settlements ecology through the analysis of the factors of the villages’ spatial form. The survey results are as follows: (1) the villages are usually located at river valleys and basin areas, which are characteristic of facing the sun and near the water, embodying the persevering ecological concept of “adapting to local conditions and coexisting with nature”. (2) Dai people are one of the earliest “rice-growing nationalities”. Dai people’s settlements have formed a sustainable human settlement ecological space and the spatial pattern of “water-forest-field-village” is an organic whole. (3) The combination of Dai’s primitive religious ecology and Southern Buddhist culture has formed the characteristic of “advocating nature and Buddhism” and a unique concept of settlement space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Landscape, Nature Conservation and Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring Tangible and Intangible Heritage and its Resilience as a Basis to Understand the Cultural Landscapes of Saxon Communities in Southern Transylvania (Romania)
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3102; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113102 - 01 Jun 2019
Abstract
Landscape researchers tend to reduce the diversity of tangible heritage to physical aspects of cultural landscapes, from the wealth of intangible heritage they focus on land-use practices which have a direct and visible impact on the landscape. We suggest a comprehensive assessment of [...] Read more.
Landscape researchers tend to reduce the diversity of tangible heritage to physical aspects of cultural landscapes, from the wealth of intangible heritage they focus on land-use practices which have a direct and visible impact on the landscape. We suggest a comprehensive assessment of both tangible and intangible heritage, in order to more accurately assess the interconnection of local identity and the shaping of cultural landscapes. As an example, we looked at Saxon culture and cultural landscapes in southern Transylvania (Romania), where we assessed features of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, identified their resilience and the driving forces of their change. Our analysis, based on 74 interviews with residents in ten villages in southern Transylvania, showed a high resilience of tangible heritage and a low resilience of intangible heritage. A major factor responsible for changes in the Saxon heritage was a decline in the population at the end of the Cold War, due to migration, driven by political and economic factors. We conclude by discussing the specific merits of such an analysis for integrated landscape management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Landscape, Nature Conservation and Culture)
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