1 Tahrcountry Musings: The importance of landscape history

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The importance of landscape history

Even though I was hooked on to my passion for hiking, flying and skydiving during the course of my sojourn, I found enough time at night to read. I got an opportunity to read a wonderful book by landscape historian Prof Tom Williamson. The book was borrowed from a British acquaintance.

Prof Tom Williamson has authored an important, path breaking book. According to Dr Williamson far from being 'natural', nature and the countryside have for centuries been influenced by activities of humans. Because of this fact we need a better understanding of the human history of important habitats in order manage them into the future. The book examines the impact of social and economic organization on the English landscape and biodiversity against backdrop of agricultural revolution, landed estates, the formation of large-scale industry and the growth of towns and suburbs. Even though the thrust is on England it has inputs that matters the world over. The author dug in to game books, diaries, churchwardens' accounts and even folk songs for his work. The outcome is an original perspective on the complexity and ambiguity of man/animal relationships in this post-medieval period.

Dr Williamson says “"What remains certain is that nature has never existed outside of or independent from the activities of men. The nature lies embedded in the social and the economic: its history is largely, though not entirely, that of successive forms of social, economic, and agricultural organization.
"We must accept the essentially unnatural character of our natural heritage, and we must also celebrate what some have evocatively termed the 'unofficial countryside', of gravel pits, wasteland and sewage farms. But we must also strive to preserve what remains of our 'traditional' countryside, for cultural reasons as much as for biological ones." He also argues that recreating lost habitats needs to be done with an historical perspective and warns of the danger of a one size fits all approach.

Published: 05-12-2013 Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
 Extent: 296
ISBN: 9781441124869
 Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
 Illustrations: 25

Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm

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