Introduction to Cultural Landscape Management

Session 3: Common Challenges in Cultural Landscape Management

The management of cultural landscape sites is a challenging task for the public sector and the relevant professionals. Here are a few examples of some of the common challenges observed: 

Insufficient Information for Planning and Management

Integrating cultural landscapes into land use planning and management is likely to be impeded by the incompleteness of information (Akagawa & Sirisrisak, 2012). It is observed that the concept of cultural landscape is not fully understood by key decision makers and they generally lack awareness on how to identify the landscape characters and values, not to mention their wider contributions to the quality of life and sustainable development. Therefore, unlike other protected areas, the conservation of cultural landscapes does not feature prominently in planning decisions, which can pose grave threats to the fabric of place and hinder conservation efforts.

Acceptable Levels of Change in Question

Human intervention is part of the cultural landscape’s attributes. A related management challenge is what should be the acceptable levels of future change of the existing cultural landscape (Taylor, 2013). In the case of uncontrolled intervention, the natural system and the cultural heritage might collapse breaking the resilience between communities and nature on the landscape.

Satoyama is the Japanese traditional agricultural landscape characterized by a mosaic of different land uses such as woodland, grassland, farmland, irrigation facilities, and human settlements maintained in an integrated approach. A significant part of the Satoyama landscape (especially rice terrace landscapes) in Japan is being converted to residential and industrial uses, while others are undergoing major upgrades in technology, infrastructure and road access. Such changes could also come from the migration of rural youth, in need of an income source, land use dynamics, agricultural modernisation and more. It is estimated that only 7% of the Satoyama landscape remained in the Yokohama area. Not only does it affect the structural complexity and quality of cultural landscapes, but it also has significant impact on the biodiversity (Kobori & Primack, 2003), which could lead to wider ramifications on the ecosystem functions and services.

The Impact of Tourism

With the increased public awareness of cultural heritage and cultural landscape coupled with the UNSECO’s recognition as a branding effect, there are growing concerns over the carrying capacity of the cultural landscape sites as cultural- and eco-tourism hotspots “where people can gather, live and travel” (Han, 2012). We can see that more roads and recreational facilities are now being constructed to satisfy tourist’s enjoyment, and this may result in gradual erosion of the landscape character. How to safeguard the cultural inheritance and spirit of place whilst fulfilling the growing demand of tourist in a shared cultural landscape remains to be a major challenge.


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This page references:

  1. Modern building built at the outskirt of the old town of Lijiang, China © Anna Yau
  2. Pop music bar established at Lijiang Lugu Lake in China for tourists © Anna Yau