Bio-cultural heritage and biodiversity: emerging paradigms in conservation and planning

ROTHERHAM, Ian (2015). Bio-cultural heritage and biodiversity: emerging paradigms in conservation and planning. Biodiversity and Conservation, 24 (13), 3405-3429.

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Long-term studies across Europe have clarified the eco-cultural nature of landscapes and their biodiversity, and the importance of bio-cultural heritage. This raises issues of the nature of ‘Nature’ for example, and of how perceptions of ‘natural’ landscapes may be misleading. Indeed, the lack of understanding of how ecological systems and their biodiversity relate to the cultural nature of landscapes is hugely problematic. Whilst wilder ‘futurescapes’ offer many benefits, the underlying concepts frequently confuse abandonment of ‘eco-cultural landscapes’ with ‘re-wilding’. The ending of traditional and customary uses and utilisation of landscapes mistakenly seen as re-naturing or re-wilding, and inherently a beneficial change, may threaten the conservation of important bio-cultural heritage. The reality of landscape heritage is that much biodiversity relates to long-term, predictable, sustainable, traditional uses. The ending of such traditions has now happened in many regions and taking place rapidly across much of Europe. Sudden, dramatic and often unexpected changes occur and massive declines of biodiversity result. With environments transformed by human activity, the eco-cultural landscapes in traditional or customary management hold much of the most significant wildlife resources. The ending of traditional and customary management, termed ‘cultural severance’ (Rotherham 2008), is probably the most serious threat for nature conservation in the twenty-first century, at least in the medium-term, the impacts exceeding those of climate change. The transformations now happening also have major implications for rural human communities and their economies. Observational studies and cross-disciplinary research across Europe highlights the urgent need to recognise the eco-cultural nature of landscapes and to establish inventories and conservation programmes for important bio-cultural heritage. This paper results from long-term historical research, scientific analysis of case studies, and international researcher collaborations to present ideas and paradigms relating to emerging concepts and visions.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1007/s10531-015-1006-5
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2015 13:44
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 14:48

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