A Handbook for Managers of Cultural Landscapes with Natural Resource Values Conservation Study Institute
Parque Nacional Lauca, Chile, photo by Barbara Slaiby
Executive Summary
An Overview of Cultural Landscape Preservation
The Evolution of Cultural Landscape Preservation in the United States
International Recognition of Cultural Landscape Preservation
Definition of 'Cultural Landscapes'
An Overview of Cultural Landscape Preservation Parque Nacional Lauca, Chile, photo by Barbara Slaiby
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The focus of this handbook is on understanding the values of both cultural and natural resources in cultural landscapes and finding ways to successfully integrate this understanding into management. Although many tools and guidelines for managing cultural landscapes now exist, effective integration of natural resources into management planning for cultural landscapes remains a challenge.

photo by Susan Buggey
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site, Alberta, Canada

Because the recognition of cultural landscapes is relatively recent in the United States, this resource is not yet widely understood beyond the circle of professional resource managers. In contrast, the terms “natural resource” and “ecology” became household words at in the 1970s. “Natural landscapes” are usually defined as areas that have not been actively managed or developed. These lands have ecological systems that provide habitat for wildlife, retain biodiversity, purify air and water, and provide a place for recreation. In recent years, a better understanding has developed of the sustained periodic or long-term human occupation of many “natural landscapes,” since many have a history of land use that has significantly influenced the current ecosystem.

“Cultural landscape” is a much less familiar term encompassing a diversity of places, many with significant land use history or other cultural values. Cultural landscapes include battlefields such as Gettysburg and Antietam; the homes and designed estate grounds of dignitaries, inventors, and writers; the sites held sacred by native peoples from prehistoric times to the present; and the valleys where our ancestors settled and farmed. Many cultural landscapes have maintained a continuity of land use into the present.

photo courtesy of Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area
Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, Arizona,

Many types of cultural landscapes ranging from important historic gardens of less than an acre to rural vernacular historic districts of several thousand acres have been conserved. One important development in the past decade has been the conservation of many ethnographic landscapes and places of identity for aboriginal communities, illustrating that multiculturalism and diversity have gained recognition in the heritage preservation movement. Recently, a number of local initiatives have resulted in designation of heritage areas by the U.S. Congress; this has focused attention on larger-scale landscapes where an array of cultural and natural values shape regional character and identity.

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