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16.00  Ecological Thought and Cultural Landscapes: Evolving Paradigms and their Potential Application to Heritage Conservation

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13:30, Saturday 4 Jun 2016 (30 minutes)

Cultural landscape conservation, as influenced by the US National Park Service and UNESCO/ICOMOS philosophy and practice, has focused to date on definitions, categorizations, inventories, analyses, and evaluation methodologies, and solving fairly static conservation issues. Yet cultural landscapes reside within both complex cultural and dynamic ecological systems. 

While the goals of “natural” and “cultural” conservation are frequently portrayed as antagonistic, recent concepts and collaborations have emerged among ecologists and scholars in the human sciences and humanities. Over the past thirty years, evolving concepts of systems theory, landscape ecology, restoration ecology, historic ecology, reference ecosystems, and novel ecosystems have pushed ecologists and environmental theorists to move beyond static conceptions of natural systems to recognize the role of humans in the ecological system. This trend has been supported by a growing number of ecological restorationists who call upon colleagues to view their collective work as a cultural practice. Alternative ecological frameworks for thinking about the purposes and processes of ecological restoration lie at the heart of this movement. Hence, developments in the theory and practice of ecological thought have implications for advancing sustainability goals in cultural landscape management. 

This paper will summarize current cultural landscape concepts and methodological approaches, recent ecological paradigm shifts, and will speculate about the interdisciplinary application of these ideas to cultural landscape conservation in the future.

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