Cultural landscapes: a bridge between culture and nature?by Ken Taylor, Jane Lennon

International Journal of Heritage Studies


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International Journal of Heritage


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Cultural landscapes: a bridge between culture and nature?

Ken Taylor a & Jane Lennon b a Research School of Humanities and Arts, The Australian National

University, Canberra, Australia b Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia Pacific, Deakin University,

Melbourne, Australia

Published online: 08 Dec 2011.

To cite this article: Ken Taylor & Jane Lennon (2011): Cultural landscapes: a bridge between culture and nature?, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 17:6, 537-554

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Cultural landscapes: a bridge between culture and nature?

Ken Taylora* and Jane Lennonb aResearch School of Humanities and Arts, The Australian National University, Canberra,

Australia; bCultural Heritage Centre for Asia Pacific, Deakin University, Melbourne,

Australia (Received 14 May 2010; final version received 1 December 2010)

Cultural landscapes are intended to increase awareness that heritage places (sites) are not isolated islands and that there is an interdependence of people, social structures, and the landscape and associated ecological systems. The paper explores whether the recognition of the 1992 World Heritage Cultural

Landscape categories, the IUCN Protected Landscapes and the 2005 merging of cultural and natural criteria for World Heritage purposes have been effective in bridging the gap between culture and nature philosophically and in practice.

With particular reference to opportunities presented in the Asia-Pacific region, where traditionally culture and nature are not regarded as separate, people are part of nature, the paper will further critically review the nature–culture link and its implications for North American-style national parks where cultural associations may not be seen to be necessary or even desirable. It suggests the imperative of highlighting and respecting in heritage nominations and inscriptions deep cultural associations of traditional communities with natural sites and implications for management to protect cultural and biological diversity and the need for thematic studies.

Keywords: cultural landscapes; protected landscapes; cultural and biological diversity; traditional communities

Shifting ground

A notable social advance of the post-World War II era has been concern for the world’s cultural heritage, with associated efforts to mobilise professional global agencies and initiatives to protect it. Initially, with the advent in 1964 of the Venice

Charter,1 heritage was seen to reside predominantly and physically in impressive monuments and sites – and substantively monuments and sites of the Classical (Old)

World – as great works of art. The UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 firmly placed cultural heritage (and natural heritage) conservation on the world stage, and certainly early inscriptions on the World Heritage List focused on famous monuments and sites, sometimes referred to as the separate dots on a map syndrome. As the management of cultural heritage resources developed professionally and philosophically a challenge emerged in the late 1980s/early 1990s to the 1960s’ and 1970s’ concept of heritage focusing on monuments and archaeological locations, famous architectural ensembles, or historic sites with connections to the rich and *Corresponding author. Email:

International Journal of Heritage StudiesAquatic Insects

Vol. 17, No. 6, November 2011, 537–554

ISSN 1352-7258 print/ISSN 1470-3610 online  2011 Taylor & Francis

D ow nl oa de d by [T em ple

U niv ers ity

L ibr ari es ] a t 0 6:1 0 3 0 A pr il 2 01 3 famous (Lennon 2006). Here was the inception of an enlarged value system embracing such issues as cultural landscapes and settings, living history and heritage, intangible values, vernacular heritage and community involvement. It was the beginning of the shift from concentrating wholly on what Engelhardt (2007) pithily designates the three ‘Ps’ of Princes, Priests and Politicians to include PEOPLE.

Critical to the expanded view of cultural heritage was and remains an appreciation of the inter-relationships through time between people, events and places involving associated intangible – spiritual – values as well as tangible values. Central is the concept of heritage inextricably linked to notions of identity and continuity, to private and public memories, to sense of place (genius loci). It is an approach with an intellectual basis not just in history but also one with a temporal and spatial perspective.

Inherent in the pre-1990s global view of heritage was some division, and hence tension, between cultural and natural heritage conservation. Cultural heritage residing mainly in great monuments and sites was divorced from scientific ideas of nature and wilderness as something separate from people, an ideal seen in the extreme wilderness ethic. Culture and nature were uneasy, sometimes suspicious, companions. Reflective of this, cultural and natural criteria for assessment of properties of outstanding universal value for World Heritage nomination and listing were separate until 2005 when they were sensibly combined into one set of 10 criteria included in