What is a cultural landscape?

From The Cultural Landscape Foundation:

“Cultural landscapes are landscapes that have been affected, influenced, or shaped by human involvement. A cultural landscape can be associated with a person or event. It can be thousands of acres or a tiny homestead. It can be a grand estate, industrial site, park, garden, cemetery, campus, and more. Collectively, cultural landscapes are works of art, narratives of culture, and expressions of regional identity.”

Cultural landscapes include scenic highways and rural communities, and are made up of features that individually or collectively contribute to the landscape’s physical appearance as it has evolved over time. In addition to vegetation and topography, cultural landscapes include elements such as pathways and roads.

The foundation goes on to explain why protecting cultural landscapes is so important:

“Cultural landscapes are a legacy for everyone. These special sites reveal aspects of our country’s origins and development as well as our evolving relationships with the natural world. They provide scenic, economic, ecological, social, recreational, and educational opportunities helping communities to better understand themselves.

Neglect and inappropriate development put our irreplaceable landscape legacy increasingly at risk. Too often today’s short-sighted decisions threaten the survival and continuity of our shared heritage. It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard our nation’s cultural landscapes. The ongoing care and interpretation of these sites improves our quality of life and deepens a sense of place and identity for future generations.”

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