Restorations: Mending Heritage Landscapes and Biodiversity
How can we balance wilding agricultural land to increase biodiversity, while maintaining the cultural heritage within landscapes? Is it possible to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, while restoring culture too? What issues are at stake in the UN Decade on Restoration?
Photo: Different management regimes, Shetland, by Karen Lykke Syse
Diverse ecosystems are pivotal for human and planetary well-being. Yet, they are being degraded at an alarming rate and pace, threatening both livelihoods and biodiversity. Many of the landscapes in need of restoration are extreme versions of so-called cultural landscapes, landscapes that have been impoverished in terms of biodiversity due to human activities, poisoned through enthusiastic use of pesticides, exhausted of organic matter through chemical fertilisation. Forest and woodland have been changed to farmland or planted with non-native commercial timber, and the impact of humans has had severe consequences. On the other hand, traditional cultural landscapes have changed dramatically due to lack of human impact – sometimes resulting on one hand to richer biodiversity, but on the other hand a loss of specific eco-systems which rely on human impact. Meadows or grazed heathland, and networks of paths, trails and footways, are palimpsest of past use that tell stories of pedestrian and a more than human heritage of movement. This collaborator will address restoration issues concerning wilding and re-enculturing ecosystems.