Planning at the Interface of Nature and Culture: Theory, Methods, and Identification of Cultural Landscapes in the Townships of Woolwich and Wellesley
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Planning for cultural landscapes requires the inclusion of the public in the decision-making process. Yet, how to include the public in a meaningful way remains poorly understood, especially for rural areas. This study explores the basis for public participation in cultural landscape planning through a critical review of both cultural landscape and communicative planning theory to consider how these two bodies of theory may function together to guide participatory cultural landscape planning. The study also includes a review of cultural landscape conservation research and practice in the province of Ontario, Canada, as well as in Europe. It is found that that, despite policy stipulating that the public ought to be involved, cultural landscape research and practice has only begun to address the challenges of public participation. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) literature, however, does address similar challenges in the context of ecosystem planning. In order to assess the applicability of CES methods for the identification of cultural landscapes, four participatory methods informed by that literature were used to identify candidate cultural heritage landscapes in the Townships of Woolwich and Wellesley, in southwestern Ontario, Canada. Through the use of interviews, focus groups, photo-voice, and a web-based survey, each with associated mapping exercises, 122 participants collaborated to identify areas of shared cultural heritage value. We found that valued areas were not spread randomly across the landscape, but instead were aggregated around certain landscape features. After community members participated in a method, they were asked to complete an evaluation survey. Through that instrument, it was found that focus groups had the most favourable experiences of social learning and stated behavioural changes, while the web-based survey was most favourably rated for application in other planning initiatives. Although each of the methods had its merits, it was found that interviews were indispensable for gaining an understanding of what it means to dwell in the landscape. Through that method, cultural and individual barriers to participatory cultural landscape identification were identified, and, moreover, it provided the information to enable consideration of the negative potentialities of designating cultural landscapes for unique communities that reside in or have a stake in the study area.
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Christopher DeGeer (2018). Planning at the Interface of Nature and Culture: Theory, Methods, and Identification of Cultural Landscapes in the Townships of Woolwich and Wellesley. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13896