A History of Nature Conservation and Cultural Landscape Preservation: Where do they intersect today in urban centers and beyond?

Historic Urban Landscape, HUL, is new. In 2011, UNESCO adopted HUL, the first instrument on the historic environment issued by UNESCO in 35 years. This lecture course explores backgrounds to HUL, asking how the new approach can also aid urban biodiversity threatened by climate change.

Since cultural landscapes were introduced into the World Heritage Convention (1992), nature conservation and the conservation of cultural heritage have found common ground in forest/agricultural/wildlife management; now HUL promises more. From the ACE Basin in South Carolina to the Curonian Spit in Lithuania or Rideau Canal in Canada, natural and cultural heritages contribute to sustainability through tourism and resource management. Such integrated management goes back to George Perkins Marsh; The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont perpetuates this legacy. The writings of Marsh (Man and Nature, 1864) are foundational in environmental history. Yet such thinking has roots in the early modern writings of Gilbert White (Selborne, 1789), brought to life in Mark Laird’s forthcoming A Natural History of English Gardening: 1650-1800.

Tracing the history of cultural landscape preservation alongside the history of cultural geographies over 100 years, the course is also a history of Professor Laird’s evolving engagement with heritage landscapes over 30 years.

Ranging from Austria to Canada and from Lithuania to the UK, some of the 981 World Heritage Sites are considered, exploring what is left out of protections as much as what is protected in urban centers. Its themes are activism, urbanism, sustainability and globalism, and, with open discussion of the fast-changing world of climate change, it offers scope for speculation. The instructor’s history lectures are supported by presentations from practitioners, and, with focused readings, students will submit one general paper and one independent study paper. The course is open to all in landscape architecture, architecture, and urban planning and design.