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  • Cited by 8
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: November 2012

1 - Connecting cultural landscapes to resilience


Two views on values and changes of cultural landscapes

First-time visitors are fascinated by the traditional dehesa landscapes of Extremadura, the remote southwestern part of Spain (Figure 1.1). Gently rolling hills provide spectacular views of seemingly endless and undisturbed landscapes and wildlife. Globally threatened bird and mammal species such as the Spanish imperial eagle or the Iberian lynx strive over and through this landscape. Shepherds guide their flocks from winter to summer pastures, following historic routes of transhumance often over hundreds of kilometres. Local landraces of sheep, cattle and pigs; scenic stone walls; historic farm estates; ancient oak trees and other traditional landscape elements remind Northern Europeans and Americans of the losses in values that their native landscapes have suffered. All this is not a natural landscape feature, but the result of a ‘10 000 years love story’ between man and nature, as Blondel (2006) notes. The dehesa, which combines livestock husbandry, crop cultivation and management of Holm oaks and Cork oaks in an agroforestry system, is perfectly adapted to the local resource constraints imposed by the rough environmental conditions of a dry Mediterranean climate and shallow, acidic and nutrient-poor soils. Dehesas are described as the material expression of people having shaped their local landscapes in a sustainable way. It is hardly surprising that the dehesa landscape has become the embodiment of a traditional cultural landscape of high nature value in conservation policy and practice, but also in the general public.

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