Landscape as heritage – searching for roots to build resilience

Knut Anders Hovstad, CHeriScape/Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research,

Annelies Van Caenegem, CHeriScape/Ghent University Department of Geography,


The basic idea for this symposium is to examine how treating landscape and heritage as tightly interlinked concepts in many cases can help scientists to understand the processes and patterns in the landscape better. Our society faces challenges like global warming and habitat loss that potentially can have large negative impacts on biological diversity and ecosystem functioning. It can be argued that many of these challenges are rooted in cultural problems and therefore call for cultural solutions. Ecologists need to include humans, our history and attitudes towards landscape and nature in studies to understand changes in landscapes and ecosystems and to come up with solutions for the future.


Landscape is a concept that can be crucial in facing all kinds of spatial and environmental challenges; allied to heritage it can offer cultural solutions to many environmental and societal problems that often have cultural roots at the core. Landscape and heritage can be viewed as closely connected concepts, or even synonyms. Both landscape and heritage is everywhere, in everyday just as much as in special landscapes. The concept of heritage is not only about inherited values (or problems) but also about how these values are transmitted to future generations. The concept of heritage is therefore also closely connected to sustainability.

These basic ideas about the connections between landscape, heritage and sustainability served as a foundation for the joint European network project named CHeriScape ( and will also serve as a starting point for this symposium.

It can be argued that the intimate relationship between landscape and heritage is sort of a blind spot for many contemporary landscape ecologists. If so, this can hamper the ability to understand observed ecological patterns and environmental issues as well as the ability to come up with sustainable and resilient solutions for the future. In this symposium, presentations that explore the interrelationship between the concepts of heritage and landscape are invited. In particular, we are looking for studies that explore how consciousness about the heritage aspect of landscapes can help understanding environmental problems and point to sustainable solutions. We are also searching for presentations that can serve as novel examples of how information on landscape history and heritage can be integrated in studies of landscape ecology. Presentations that explore the potential for a more unified policy and management of environments and cultural heritage are also encouraged.

What can participants expect to learn?

The symposium targets not only people already interested in cultural heritage but also those who have spatial ecology and the physical aspects of the landscape as their primary field of interest. The symposium aims to include presentations that explore (i) the potential role of landscape history and heritage in contemporary landscape ecology, and (ii) how landscape and heritage as unified concepts can facilitate our understanding of environmental problems. Our hope is that those who take part in the symposium will walk away with (a) new ideas and examples of how information on landscape history and heritage can be an integrated and essential part in studies of landscape ecology, and (b) an increased consciousness of the cultural roots of many ecological and environmental problems. 


The communication of outcomes from the symposium still has to be decided but an alternative is invite all those who present to participate in the writing of a scientific paper based on the theme and the presentations of the symposium.