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

Historic Urban Landscape, HUL, is a new approach to integrating urban preservation within the three pillars of sustainability: economy—ecology—society. 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 resilience in the face of multiple pressures, including 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 and 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, and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont perpetuates his legacy. While the writings of Marsh (Man and Nature, 1864) are foundational in environmental history, such thinking has roots in the early modern writings of Gilbert White (Selborne, 1789). Laird’s A Natural History of English Gardening: 1650-1800 (Spring 2015) assesses White’s place in that history.

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.

In this course, some of the nearly 1,000 World Heritage Sites are considered, exploring what is left out of protections as much as what is protected. 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. Through focused readings, students will submit one general paper and one independent study. The course is open to all in landscape architecture, architecture, and urban planning and design.