Cultural Landscape: An Evaluation From Past to Present

Cultural Landscape: An Evaluation From Past to Present

Funda Varnaci Uzun (Aksaray University, Turkey) and Mehmet Somuncu (Ankara University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4186-8.ch001
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The “cultural landscape” has been a fundamental concept in geography and was first defined as “landscape modified by human activity” by the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel in 1890. It was introduced to American geography in the 1920s by Carl O. Sauer (American geographer). Since the 1960s, the concept has been widely used in human geography, anthropology, environmental management, and other related fields. One of the major factors that contributed to the recent popularity of its use, on a global scale, was the adoption of cultural landscapes in the International Convention for the World Heritage Convention by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1992. In this chapter, the basis of this concept, its emergence, and its relationships with other scientific disciplines, particularly geography, will be discussed. Moreover, the place of cultural landscapes within protected areas and UNESCO world heritage sites will be more specifically addressed.
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Cultural landscapes are a legacy of all mankind. Cultural landscape, a complex spatial phenomenon, is a result of the activity of all its inhabitants from a natural process and biological species to human. In this respect, cultural landscape covers highly comprehensive heritage with its memories and concrete – abstract components (Çöteli, 2012). The recognition of cultural landscapes is representative of the broadening of the definition and scope of cultural heritage. There is specific recognition of the potential natural resource values in cultural landscapes (Mitchell & Buggey, 2000). A cultural landscape perspective explicitly recognizes the history of a place and its cultural traditions in addition to its ecological value. A landscape perspective also recognizes the continuity between the past and with people living and working on the land today. It explores how the sense of place, the cultural identity, and the connections to the past can become touchstones for deepening and broadening the impact and relevance of conservation. Concurrently, the concept of protected landscapes has advanced the practice and thought for natural area conservation (Mitchell & Buggey, 2000).

The primary focus of conservation activities of cultural landscapes is to respect the past. Conservation of cultural landscapes is important for the continuity of sense of place and identity of future generations. The identification of multiple values of cultural landscapes is a key to their management planning. In other words, if values are identified correctly, the management plan should flow from that in a coherent way. The section on the significance and values of cultural landscapes addressed the role of the people who decide the values of cultural landscapes, which are closely linked to management planning. There are other significant factors that determine which cultural landscape deserves more protection and which one does not and who sets the objectives for the management of cultural landscapes (Dailoo, 2009; Weizenegger & Schenk, 2006). Understanding cultural landscapes means understanding the way of life in the past and the decisions made at that time. This is important to a better comprehension of the current situation and certainly crucial to better decision making for the future.

This section aims to discuss the emergence, development, change and the present situation of the concept of cultural landscape. For this purpose, the chapter firstly includes the development and change of the concept in the historical process and its definition by different disciplines. In the second stage, types of cultural landscapes created by different organizations are explained. In the next section, the conservation of cultural landscape areas is assessed within the framework of the approaches of the United Nations National Park Service (USNPS), the UNESCO World Convention and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In this part of the book, the importance and management of cultural landscapes are also discussed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

World Heritage Areas: A world heritage site is a landmark or area which has been officially recognized by the United Nations, specifically by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Sites are selected by having cultural, historical, scientific, or some other form of significance, and international treaties legally protect them.

IUCN: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organizations. It provides public, private, and non-governmental organizations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development, and nature conservation to take place together.

USNPS: The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the US National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The park service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout the USA and the world.

Carl O. Sauer: Carl O. Sauer, for more than 30 years chairman of the department of geography at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century geography. The study of cultural geography, especially as it has developed in the United States, owes more to Sauer than to any other man.

UNESCO: UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture, and communication.

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