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Environmental Sciences | Cultural Severance and the Environment - The Ending of Traditional and Customary Practice on Commons

Cultural Severance and the Environment

The Ending of Traditional and Customary Practice on Commons and Landscapes Managed in Common

Series: Environmental History, Vol. 2

Rotherham, Ian D. (Ed.)

2013, X, 447 p. 165 illus., 89 illus. in color.

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  • New conceptual development
  • Broad academic base Global appeal Relevance to current environmental debates
  • Issues of landscape and biodiversity conservation on a par with climate change in terms of their importance

A standpoint of many of the contributions is that it is important or even vital to understand the past, our history, if we are to address effectively future environmental challenges. Often, this is not the case, since the environment and nature, are treated as ‘natural’ rather than eco-cultural. Issues of common ownership and rights to natural resources present major challenges in the contemporary global world and the market forces of capital driven economics. Yet the long-term consequences, of the separation or severance of people from nature, are tangible and potentially disastrous at many levels. However, most contemporary actions towards conservation and sustainability fail to address this fundamental relationship between communities and local environments. This reflects perhaps, the ethos of Hardin’s 1960s ‘Tragedy of the commons’ and from this perspective the chapters in this volume challenge such precepts and assumptions and through this, raise new and critical paradigms.

In recent years, researchers have turned their attention to issues of landscape change and the eco-cultural nature of the environment. Combined with the impacts and effects of cultural severance, the break between local people and their environmental resources, the cultural nature of landscape is now better understood. However, the implicit importance and significance for conservation of biodiversity, of heritage and consequently for activities such as tourism, are only just receiving wider recognition. The implications of widespread landscape abandonment, rural depopulation, urbanisation, and severance, are dramatic and sometimes stark, with wildfires raging, ecology often in free-fall, and local communities and their traditions displaced. 

A first step with all these landscapes is to recognise both the important sites and the critical issues. Then, appropriate protection and conservation must be determined and applied. Finally, there is the potential to develop new and extended commons as part of a landscape approach to future conservation. However, the cultural past, together now with issues of cultural severance, present enormous challenges for the integration of this knowledge into visions of future sustainable landscapes. Not least of these challenges is the loss of indigenous cultural and traditional knowledge, without which, much future conservation action is jeopardised. This book is intended to raise awareness, to stimulate further discuss, debate and research, and to then turn dialogue into action.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Biodiversity - Commons - Cultural Landscapes - Cultural Severance - Traditional

Related subjects » Ecology - Environmental Management - Environmental Sciences - Population Studies

Table of contents 

Part 1: Setting the Scene on Cultural Severance and its Implications

1. Cultural Landscapes and Problems Associated with the Loss of Tradition and Custom: an introduction and overview (Ian D. Rotherham)
2. Cultural Severance and the End of Tradition (Ian D. Rotherham)
3. Globalism and the Enclosure of the Landscape Commons (Kenneth R. Olwig)
4. A Natural Origin of the Commons: Interactions of People, Animals and Invisible Biodiversity (Ted Green)

Part 2: Case Studies of Cultural Landscapes from Around the World

5. Valorising the European rural landscape: the case of the Italian national register of historical rural landscapes (Mauro Agnoletti)
6. Severance of Traditional Grazing Landscape in the Himalayas: Commons and Ecosystems in Crisis? (Minoti Chakravarty-Kaul)
7. Early Wood Commons and Beyond (Della Hooke)
8. What, How, and Why? Collecting Traditional Knowledge on Forest Uses in Switzerland (Matthias Bürgi and Martin Stuber)
9. The History of Utilization and Management of Commons and Consequences of Current Social Change in the Alpine Region of Austria(Elisabeth Johann)
10. Guided Pollards and the Basque Woodland during the Early Modern Ages (Alvaro Aragón Ruano)
11. The Evolution of Forest Landscapes in Spain’s Central Mountain Range: Different Forests for Different Traditional Uses (López Estébanez, N., Gomez Mediavilla, G., Gómez Mendoza, J., Madrazo García de Lomana, G., Allende Álvarez, F. & Sáez Pombo, E.)
12. Of Commoners and Kings (Graham Bathe)
13. The cultural landscape of royal hunting gardens from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century in Białowieża Primeval Forest (Tomasz Samojlik, Ian D. Rotherham, Bogumiła Jędrzejewska)
14. The End of Common Uses and Traditional Management in a Central European Wood (Péter Szabó)

Part 3: The History and Use of Landscape Commons

15. ‘A very fair field indeed…’: an Archaeology of the Common Lands of English Towns (Mark Bowden and Nicky Smith)
16. From Pasture Woodland, via Deer Park and Common, to Cultural Severance – a Case Study of the Commons of Ashampstead, Berkshire (Dick Greenaway)
17. Changing Cornish Commons (Peter Herring)
18. The Commons of the Ancient Parish of Sheffield (David Hey)
19. Traditional Uses, Destruction, Survival and Restoration of Common Land: a South Yorkshire Perspective (Melvyn Jones)
20. Abandoned Landscapes of Former German Settlement in the Czech Republic and in Slovenia (Petr Mares, Robin Rasin and Primoz Pipan)
21. Land management and Biodiversity through Time in Upper Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire, UK: Understanding the Impact of Traditional Management (Helen Shaw and Ian Whyte)
22. Policing the Commons in the Vale of York, c.1550 - c.1850 (Brodie Waddell)
23. The Parliamentary Enclosure of Upland Commons in North-west England: Economic, Social and Cultural Impacts (Ian Whyte)

Part 4: Issues and Approaches for Future Commons & Cultural Landscapes

24. Biodiversity Conservation and the Traditional Management of Common Land: the Case of the New Forest (Adrian C. Newton)
25. Looking Back to the Future: ancient, working pollards and Europe’s silvo-pastoral systems (Jill Butler)
26. Promoting Stewardship of New Commons: Lessons from Wake Nature Partnership (Gary B. Blank and George R. Hess)
27. End of Tradition, Reworking of Custom: Re-assembling Satoyama Woodlands on Tokyo’s Urban Fringe (Jay Bolthouse)
28. New Commons for Old: Inspiring New Cultural Traditions (Duncan Mackay)
29. Community Grassland Conservation on a Former Common in the Wye Valley, England (George Peterken)
30. Upland Wood Pastures (Peter Quelch)

Part 5: Conclusions & Overview: the Implications of Severance for Future Landscapes

31. Concluding Thoughts on the Implications of Cultural Severance on Landscapes, Ecology and People (Ian D. Rotherham)

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