Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes

Using the Standards + Guidelines


Preservation Planning

Factors to Consider

Special Requirements

Using the Standards + Guidelines

Organization of the Guidelines




The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are designed to be applied to all historic resource types included in the National Register of Historic Places—buildings, sites, structures, landscapes, districts, and objects. The Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes apply to a specific resource type: landscapes.

The Guidelines have been prepared to assist in applying the Standards to all project work involving the treatment of cultural landscapes; consequently, they are not meant to give case-specific advice or address exceptions or rare instances. Therefore, it is recommended that the advice of qualified cultural landscape preservation professionals be obtained early in the planning stage of the project. Such professionals may have expertise in landscape architecture, landscape history, landscape archeology (ex. pollen analysis), forestry, horticulture (ex. pomology, natural resources, archeology, architecture, engineering (e.g. civil, structural, mechanical, traffic), cultural geography, wildlife, ecology, ethnography, interpretation, material and object conservation, landscape maintenance and management or other related fields. Historians are generally part of the specialized team, and bring expertise in the history of landscape architecture, architecture, art, industry, agriculture, society, etc. Project teams are often directed by a landscape architect with specific expertise in landscape preservation. This is not to say that all cultural landscape projects require a team representing all of these disciplines. It is recommended that professionals in disciplines relevant to the landscapes’ inherent features be represented.

The Guidelines apply to cultural landscapes of all types, sizes, and materials. The Guidelines begin with an overview and description of the larger organizational elements of the landscape (spatial organization and land patterns), followed by those individual features (topography, vegetation, circulation, water features, structures, buildings, furnishings, and objects) that may contribute to the landscape’s historic character. A graphic symbol has been assigned to each of these organizational elements and character-defining features to allow the user to readily locate a feature at a glance.

Each of the four sections of this publication is devoted to one of the four treatments: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. Each section contains one set of standards and accompanying guidelines that can be used throughout the course of a project. The four sections begin with a definition of the treatment, followed by the treatment standards, and a brief explanation of the philosophical framework from which to make educated treatment decisions. The distinct goals that comprise each treatment standard, (for example, “Identify, Retain and Preserve Historic Materials,”) are first discussed in narrative form, and are then amplified in parallel “Recommended” and “Not Recommended” examples that follow. The sections are illustrated by case-study examples of project work, which include before and after photographs, historic documentation, plans, sections, perspectives and other illustrative materials.

The actions and techniques that are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties” are listed in the “Recommended” column on the left; those which are inconsistent with the Standards are listed in the “Not Recommended” column on the right. These examples serve to illustrate a variety of applications to project work; not every possible alternative can be included. Therefore, the Standards and Guidelines narrative introducing each section should be used as a model process to follow when considering and evaluating a particular cultural landscape and its potential compatibility with a particular treatment.

Finally, the publication concludes with two appendices. The first contains an annotated bibliography of selected readings in the areas of preservation planning and treatment. The second provides a directory of national organizations that can assist in the protection of cultural landscapes.


The core of this Anasazi complex at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Bloomfield, New Mexico, [opposite page bottom] has been preserved and protected since it was designated a National Monument in 1907. (NPS)