A Handbook for Managers of Cultural Landscapes with Natural Resource Values Conservation Study Institute
Cape Cod National Seashore, Highland Lighthouse, photo by Katherine Lacy
Cape Cod National Seashore, photo by Katherine Lacy
Executive Summary
An Overview of Cultural Landscape Preservation
Executive Summary Cape Cod National Seashore, vernal wetland, photo by Stephen Smith
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Cultural landscapes result from human interaction with the land, and as a result encompass a range of natural and cultural values. This multidisciplinary aspect challenges the traditional discipline-oriented approach to resource management that has proven to be a barrier to developing an integrated approach to landscape management.

photo by Susan Buggey
Loire Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site, France

Recognizing the need to develop a more comprehensive approach to cultural landscape management, the Conservation Study Institute (CSI) and QLF/Atlantic Center for the Environment initiated a project to develop a handbook for managers of cultural landscapes with important natural resource values. The study found many examples of innovative, comprehensive approaches that effectively integrate multiple values in management.

This handbook is geared particularly to superintendents, site managers, resource managers, and other professional staff working with cultural landscapes. It is being published as a web site to serve as a living manual that can be added to as new information is compiled. The handbook includes an overview of cultural landscape preservation, a description of the study's methodology, an in-depth discussion of the findings, several case studies, and a bibliography for further reference. As new case studies, tools, and approaches are compiled, the web site will be expanded.

From a literature review and many interviews with landscape managers and other professionals, four main areas emerged as key to the effective integrated management of cultural landscapes:

  • Collection and use of high quality landscape information provides the foundation for successful management. Useful information includes both site-specific documentation, such as a GIS database or a cultural landscapes inventory, and the use of expert panels or charrettes to gather professional expertise from other organizations, other parts of the country, or other disciplines not represented among site staff.

  • Timely and consistent communication helps staff to work together more effectively by providing a mechanism to share information and discuss options. A decision-making process that brings all responsible staff together at an early stage facilitates a team approach.

  • A comprehensive approach to planning allows planners and managers to build a "big picture" perspective and understand the interrelationships among projects. When evaluation is integral to the planning process, a learning experience is the result.

  • Involvement of the public and others outside site staff recognizes that people's views and values are relevant, important, and not usually homogeneous. Exploration of innovative ways for the public to participate in the planning and decision-making process can build common understanding of decisions and create a supportive constituency.

Recognition of cultural landscapes is relatively recent in the United States, but the last decade has seen substantially increased interest in this concept both in the U.S. and worldwide. It is clear from the results of this study that the increased attention has generated creative and effective approaches to the integration of natural and cultural resource values in landscape management.

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