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BIOCULTURAL DIVERSITY CONSERVATION: MANAGEMENT AND RECOVERY OF RURAL MEDITERRANEAN LANDSCAPES

Cultural Diversity: Issues, Challenges and Perspectives

Abstract

Cultural landscapes reflect ancestral customs of interaction between man and the physical environment. Particularly in the Mediterranean rural environment, there is still evidence of the characteristics of agrosilvopastoral systems, which make up a part of its culture, and that are considered as a paradigm of adaptive responses (numerous climatic subtypes, noteworthy geophysical complexity, a long land use history, high agrobiodiversity). The European Landscape Convention, held in Florence in the year 2000, along with the new tendencies of the CAP, manifested in the 2003 intermediate reform, highlight the interaction between rural landscape and local and regional cultures. This perspective, focussing upon the importance of the cultural and natural legacy (jointly) of an area, has been leading back the interest and priorities of politicians, managers and scientists principally towards management of degraded urban landscapes and those considered as natural ones. Little attention has been paid, however, to maintenance and conservation of rural landscapes, which play a vital role in conserving cultural biodiversity. The adaptation and social and ecological resilience of these landscapes, strengthened over time by the transmission of empirical knowledge of resource use, has given rise therein to a reasonable level of agricultural production and to high degrees of variety and quality in relation to the flow of goods and services they provide. This utilitarian approach to ecosystems services is highly important due to the fact that most biodiversity arises outside protected areas, in managed landscapes, the spatial configuration of which ought to be maintained. The results of our studies ill different types of rural landscapes on the Iberian Peninsula showed an increasing loss of their socio-environmental resilience, marked by population migration which, in some cases, involved abandonment of agricultural and livestock farming activities and in others, intensification thereof. Within this framework, the persistence of these cultural landscapes is seriously threatened. Recovery and its maintenance involve adapting and making profitable the traditional uses that have existed for centuries, as well as appropriate planning and management of alternative and complementary uses, in order not to surpass the carrying capacity of a territory, which is determined by the landscape and the population it comprises.

Author(s): Rescia, AJ; Schmitz, MF; de Aranzabal, I; Pineda, FD

Journal: Cultural Diversity: Issues, Challenges and Perspectives

Year: 2010

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