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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: November 2012

7 - In search of resilient behaviour: using the driving forces framework to study cultural landscapes



Cultural landscapes are shaped by society and nature alike. As societies and nature are dynamic, change is an inherent characteristic of cultural landscapes. Understanding these changes is one of the prime goals of the recently emerged field of land change science (Turner et al., 2007; Turner & Robbins, 2008). Although a unifying theory of land change does not yet exist, significant theoretical advances have been made (Briassoulis, 2000; Lambin et al., 2006; Walker & Solecki, 2004).

Studies of landscape change increasingly go beyond a merely descriptive approach and adopt an analytical perspective. In the context of the topics presented in this book, this means that challenging questions like ‘Why does a certain landscape show traits of resilient behaviour in regard to certain aspects and over a defined period?’ are addressed. One way of meeting this challenge is to systematically study the landscape changes and the factors responsible for the observed change and persistency. These so-called driving forces of landscape change (Bürgi et al., 2004) can be analysed for all kinds of cultural or natural landscapes.

Both terms, cultural landscapes and resilience, have a normative character. The term resilience is usually positively used, but resilient behaviour of landscapes is not desirable per se (Cumming, 2011). For example, a land manager trying in vain to restore a degraded cultural landscape will perceive resilience of this landscape as problematic. The term cultural landscape is partly value-laden in quite a similar way. On the one hand, all landscapes that are shaped by anthropogenic activities can be called cultural landscapes, many of which underwent radical changes in the last decades. In these cases, no specific positive connotation of the term cultural landscapes is intended.

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