IFLA: Cultural Landscapes Committee

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An Overview of Issues Facing Cultural Landscapes

The issues and challenges facing landscape architects working on cultural landscapes are multiple and complex. These challenges include addressing documentation, selecting an appropriate preservation approach and philosophy, incorporating multiple values, tangible and intangible. Cultural landscapes are places where multiple values reside and sometimes collide. In addressing these shared resources an understanding of the needs and values of residents, tourists, and the local economy must be gained. In this work landscape architects and colleagues can bring their professionals skills to aid in addressing alterations in the setting and visual relationships, formulate ongoing management workforce, skills and budgets and carry out studies that aid in obtaining preservation funding. Working with effective owners and stakeholders threats to cultural landscapes from development, neglect and degradation can be overcome. Landscapes are political and community leadership and awareness of values is also a subject of interest.

Cultural landscapes are at the intersection of culture and nature. There is a growing interest in climate change and carbon footprinting. Demonstrating that preservation of cultural landscapes is a deeply green practice is essential. Cultural landscape preservation safeguards former inputs and through interventions, brings functional, uplifting cultural landscapes into the future with limited additional carbon inputs. Sustainability of cultural landscapes into the future is an achievable objective.

Patricia M. O’Donnell, IFLA CLC Global Chair, recently published a thirty year overview of cultural landscape preservation in the United States.  She addressed the evolution of the field over the past three decades exploring the changing trends and issues facing landscape architects and landscape historians. Contemporary issues of nature and culture, sustainability, rapid change and tourism impacts are noted. See the PDF of this article entitled “Thirty Years of Landscape Rescue” (right) .

Through the Best Practices Project Summaries, the Blog and other vehicles the IFLA CLC members can explore the full range of issues relevant to cultural landscape preservation.

Thirty Years of Landscape Rescue
VIEW magazine, Summer 2008

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In any work of maintenance, conservation, restoration or reconstruction of a historic garden, or of any part of it, all its constituent features must be dealt with simultaneously. To isolate the various operations would damage the unity of the whole.

ICOMOS Florence Charter,1981