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The Culture-Nature Spectrum: Conservations about Irish Cultural Landscapes with an International Perspective

This symposium, hosted by ICOMOS Ireland National Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes and held during the ICOMOS-IFLA International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes meeting in Dublin, took place at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin on Wednesday 19th & Thursday 20th June 2019.

In long and closely settled areas such as Ireland, the human impress is so pervasive that it is appropriate to speak of a cultural landscape…This cultural landscape is our major and most productive creation; it is both an artefact based on foundations of geology and climate, and a narrative, layer upon layer of our history and nature’s history intertwined.1

There are varying degrees and ways of interaction between human beings and the natural world which are visibly present in our landscapes. At one end of the spectrum we find deeply humanized landscapes, such as the dry-stone walled field boundary system of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Seemingly natural, on closer inspection an intensely worked landscape is revealed. At the other end of that spectrum, the connection between culture and nature may not be visible; the human dimension is in the mind and the landscape is untouched, natural, with little human imprint. And yet for those associated with such landscapes, they have great significance “by virtue of the powerful religious, artistic or cultural associations of the natural element rather than material cultural evidence, which may be insignificant or even absent.2

The intention of the symposium was to initiate discussion and develop awareness about cultural landscape; to understand the broad nature of the term while looking at the particular; and to share the Irish experience with an international audience.

The proposed sub-themes were:

  • Layered Landscapes: continuing, evolving and cared for by a community;
  • Pleasure Landscapes: demesnes, landscape parks & gardens, historic urban parks, places for leisure;
  • Water Landscapes: bogs, coastal landscapes and their role in supporting ecological and sustainable responses to climate change;
  • Associative Cultural Landscapes: addressing the presence of intangible heritage in the landscape.

Recordings were made of the papers presented during the symposium and these can be found at this link - The Culture-Nature Spectrum: Conversations about Irish Cultural Landscapes with an International Perspective Symposium 2019 - YouTube

Not all videos have been uploaded as of yet and we will continue to update the page with further videos in the forthcoming weeks.  

1 Aalen, F.H.A. ‘The Irish rural landscape: synthesis of habitat and history’, Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape, edited by F.H.A. Aalen, Kevin Whelan, Matthew Stout (Cork University Press, Cork, Ireland, 1997) p5.

2 http://whc.unesco.org/archive/opgu/opgu-annex4rev.pdf


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