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Community Forestry and Landscape Identity: Planning New Forest Landscapes

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Maggie RoeORCiD


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The European Landscape Convention promotes the landscape as 'an everyday living environment' . It demands that landscape planning should be based on people’s perceptions and experience of their environment, providing them with myriad associations, identities and meanings commonly linked to considerations of quality of life. The Convention focuses on the protection of outstanding landscapes, and on the recognition of the diversity of a shared cultural and natural heritage as the foundation for new expressions of the identity of communities with particular reference to peri-urban and rural areas. The Community Forests Initiative in England has been largely based on the enhancement of degraded landscapes through the provision of a wooded setting within which regeneration can occur, providing social and environmental benefits. The focus has been on well-defined areas on the urban fringes of a number of the country’s major cities. Recently more holistic thinking, as supported by and set out in the European Landscape Convention, has encouraged the evolution of a new vision and objectives for the Community Forests Initiative. This has resulted in reorientation towards a more broadly based approach to landscape enhancement and management on the urban fringe and consideration of a much larger landscape scale. There is now a major emphasis, reflected by government, on the need for social benefit through landscape enhancement, recreational opportunities, strengthened regional images and improved quality of life. The Community Forests have already been responding to such demands by a number of actions that record and celebrate the cultural history of the new forest areas and also reflect a new and evolving cultural heritage that responds to site, local communities and recognition that all landscapes are worthy of attention. This paper reviews cultural issues within the Community Forest movement in the UK from information based on the original feasibility study of the National Forest (formerly known as the New Midland Forest), the Great North Forest – one of the 12 originally established national Community Forests - and a project to develop a new Regional Community Forestry Strategy for the North East of England. The paper examines issues of scale and the important of considering the wider ecological, cultural and economic history of the landscape in building a sense of identity in new forest landscapes. It reviews the way that the initiatives have connected with local communities to develop a vision for a new landscape that holds cultural significance for them and in so doing builds a new identity for the landscape and its people. The paper discusses the use of scenario building and decision-making with communities and the length of time it takes for contemporary environments to turn into ‘cultural landscapes’

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roe MH

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Forum UNESCO University and Heritage 10th International Seminar, Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century

Year of Conference: 2005

Pages: 8pp