1 Tahrcountry Musings: The words pristine-landscape is a misnomer now

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The words pristine-landscape is a misnomer now

Oxford researchers say Pristine' landscapes simply do not exist anywhere in the world today. An exhaustive review of archaeological data by them from the last 30 years provides details of how the world's landscapes have been shaped by repeated human activity over many thousands of years. The researchers identify four major phases when humans shaped the world around them with broad effects on natural ecosystems: global human expansion during the Late Pleistocene; the Neolithic spread of agriculture; the era of humans colonising islands; and the emergence of early urbanised societies and trade.
The researchers draw on new datasets using ancient DNA, stable isotopes, and microfossils, as well as the application of new statistical and computational methods to arrive at their conclusions. They affirm that we need to be more pragmatic in our conservation efforts rather than aiming for impossible 'natural' states.
Lead author Dr Nicole Boivin, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, says: 'Archaeological evidence is critical to identifying and understanding the deep history of human effects. If we want to improve our understanding of how we manage our environment and conserve species today, maybe we have to shift our perspective, by thinking more about how we safeguard clean air and fresh water for future generations and rather less about returning planet Earth to its original condition.'

Details appear in the latest issue of journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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