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Journal for Nature Conservation ] (]]]]) ]]]—]]]

Restoration principles applied to

cultural landscapes
Francisco Moreiraa,, A. Isabel Queirozb, James Aronsonc

Centro de Ecologia Aplicada ‘‘Prof. Baeta Neves’’, Instituto Superior de Agronomia,
Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal
CIBIO, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Restoration Ecology Group, CEFE, CNRS Montpellier France and Missouri Botanical Garden, USA

Received 28 November 2005; accepted 5 April 2006

‘‘Mixer board’’
Restoration models and practise to date have been applied mainly to ecosystems.
landscape model;
More recently, there has been a focus on the ‘‘landscape perspective’’ of ecosystem
restoration in order to improve nature conservation and management effectiveness.
Here, we clarify some of the differences between ecosystem- and landscape-
oriented restoration, and propose four components that should be considered in
planning and conceptualising: (a) landscape composition and configuration; (b)
traditional land management techniques; (c) linear and point features; and (d) other
heritage features. We further discuss the concept of reference landscapes, and the
contrasts between restoration and rehabilitation. Spatial approaches to restoration
are explored, comparing small areas with complete restoration (‘‘museum land-
scapes’’) from large areas with rehabilitation of landscape physiognomy or point and
linear features. The linkages with nature conservation and the sustainable use and
management of natural resources are examined in the context of a rapidly changing
& 2006 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Introduction Pontanier, 1993a; Cairns, 1993; Hobbs & Norton,

1996). However, subsequent developments have
Many concepts associated with restoration and shown that restoration at an ecosystem-level was
rehabilitation were originally devised for ecosys- not always effective enough for nature conserva-
tems (e.g. Aronson, Floret, Le Floc’h, Ovalle, & tion. Hobbs and Saunders (1991) developed the
concept of ‘‘reintegration of landscapes’’, based on
Corresponding author. Tel.: +351 3616080; fax: +351 3623493. ecosystem restoration at a landscape scale. In
E-mail address: (F. Moreira). situations where human activities have caused

1617-1381/$ - see front matter & 2006 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
2 F. Moreira et al.

major disturbance and fragmentation (Aronson & complexity, landscapes include intangible cul-
Le Floc’h, 1996a) this can be applied for re- tural and scenic features which should be ad-
establishing ecosystem connectivity, such as wild- dressed in the framework of integrative restoration
life corridors across multiple habitats, and in projects.
restoring the flow of ecosystem goods and services. Currently, negative changes in cultural land-
Aronson and Le Floc’h (1996b) highlighted the scapes worldwide are of major concern, because
need for the identification and application of driving forces such as land abandonment, agricul-
landscape attributes that could serve as quantifi- tural intensification, afforestation and urbanisation
able markers for the changes observed during constitute threats to their diversity, coherence and
degradation, restoration and rehabilitation. Some identity (Antrop, 2005). For example, rural areas
of these attributes considered both ecological and are losing their traditional landscapes, charac-
socio-economical aspects. Concurrently, even more terised by a small spatial scale, mixed cultures,
comprehensive strategies and tools for holistic limited technology, low use of fertilisers and
landscape planning and dynamic conservation pesticides, and high biodiversity and amenity value
management were deemed indispensable by (Vos & Klijn, 2000). Within this context, cultural
other researchers (e.g. Farina, 1998; Green & Vos, landscape restoration is justified by historical,
2001; Grove et al., 1994; Naveh, 1993, 2005). ecological and aesthetical reasons.
Consequently, a new approach to landscape re-
storation is suggested here within the scope of
the European Landscape Convention (Council of
Europe, 2000). Contrasting ecosystem and cultural
The European Landscape Convention defines landscape restoration
landscape as ‘‘an area, as perceived by people,
whose character is a result of the action and Several features distinguish ecosystem and cul-
interaction of natural and/or human factors’’. This tural landscape restoration (Table 1), besides
definition emphasises that the human dimension of spatial scale, with ecosystem restoration often
landscapes is not restricted to their its negative occurring within landscapes. Contrasting objectives
impact on ecosystems, or exploitation of natural result in cultural and scenic values being an
resources, but also concerns peoples emotional, integral component of landscape restoration,
intellectual and socio-economic inputs, and the whereas these are of less relevance in ecosystem
resulting ways in which people contribute to land- restoration. Conversely, many landscape restora-
scape distinctiveness and diversity. Furthermore, tion projects are not focused on biodiversity.
the recognition of different landscapes and related As landscape structure affects the abundance
values depends on human perception, which has and distribution of organisms, in some cases,
strong cultural and socio-economical elements. restoration approaches at an ecosystem-level may
Here we focus exclusively on cultural landscapes, be ineffective for restoring ecosystems or popula-
which are produced by the long-term interaction of tions. This applies to species requiring separate
humans and nature (Farina, 1998; UNESCO, 1999). habitats for different activities such as foraging,
These landscapes provide multiple values and nesting or resting, or those with daily or seasonal
functions, including natural resources, wildlife patterns of multiple habitat use. As an example,
habitats, economic benefits in the form of goods the pseudosteppes of the Iberian Peninsula are a
and services, recreation (Merlo & Croitoru, 2005), cultural landscape mosaic where several birds
and, last but not least, cultural heritage (EEA, occur of threatened conservation status (Suárez,
1995). Naveso, & De Juana, 1997). Most of these species
From a nature conservation perspective, land- require several different habitats (e.g. Moreira,
scapes created by low-intensity farming contain a Morgado, & Arthur, 2004), which illustrates the
mosaic of wildlife habitats of European importance futility of a single ecosystem restoration approach.
(Moreira, Pinto, Henriques, & Marques, 2005). In Similarly, when a valuable ecosystem coincides
terms of human ecology, the interaction with local with a cultural landscape, such as cork and holm
landscapes remains a constant feature for influen- oak woodlands (montados or dehesas), or an
cing societal development through time. As Berque ecosystem is maintained within traditional farm-
(1984) stated ‘‘landscapes are the biophysical land, e.g. Mediterranean temporary ponds (Moreira
imprint of past generation’s activities as well as et al., 2005), a strict ecosystem restoration
the matrix for those of the current generation and, approach has limited application.
of course, for the generations to come’’. Thus, Landscape restoration focuses on composition
besides a larger spatial scale and ecological (the number of land use types and the area of each)
Restoring cultural landscapes 3

Table 1. Main differences between ecosystem and cultural landscape restoration approaches

Ecosystem Cultural landscape

 focus on a single ecosystem and fine spatial scales;  focus on mosaics of land uses/ecosystems at broader
 biodiversity is main objective, along with sustainable spatial scales;
economic productivity;  main objectives include cultural and scenic values, as
 may not be effective for restoring some ecosystems well as biodiversity and economic productivity;
or species populations that depend on landscape  may be very effective in restoring some ecosystems
structure; and species populations that depend on landscape
 focus on habitat/ecosystem patches; landscape structure;
composition much more important than  focus on landscape composition and configuration;
configuration;  may include preservation of degraded patches (from
 always aims at the improvement of degraded areas an ecosystem perspective) and even destruction of
and maintenance of native ecosystems; native ecosystems;
 alien species considered undesirable;  may include maintenance of alien species;
 management actions may rely on modern or  traditional land management much more valuable
traditional techniques; cost-effectiveness of the than modern techniques.
techniques is the most important criterion for

and configuration (spatial location of land uses, ecologists, yet the majority of the population from
e.g. number of patches, mean patch size and Provence, southern France, considers it to be
measures of connectivity). Configuration is parti- emblematic.
cularly important in cultural landscapes, as it Finally, while the selected management techni-
results from the interactions between natural and ques for restoration of an ecosystem are mostly
cultural features. Furthermore, it contributes sig- based on their cost effectiveness, irrespective of
nificantly to the distinctiveness and readability of being traditional or alternative (e.g. using pre-
the landscape, which are elements of identity and scribed burning instead of grazing or traditional
coherence. manual clearing), in cultural landscapes, tradi-
Cultural landscapes often include what many tional management may be highly valuable, parti-
would consider as degraded ecosystems. Typical cularly if it has cultural (ethnographic) and scenic
examples are the montados and dehesas of the value by itself.
Iberian Peninsula, which are the long-term product
of modifying and simplifying the original Mediter-
ranean oak woodlands, achieved through progres-
sive clearing, burning and thinning (Pereira & Pires
Restoration concepts applied to cultural
da Fonseca, 2003). In some situations, it may even landscapes
be necessary to heavily modify or destroy valuable
ecosystems to ‘restore’ cultural landscapes, such as Components of a cultural landscape
clearing forest to reveal former abandoned agri-
cultural terraces or stonewalls. The cultural landscape restoration challenge is
Other landscapes are recognised by their non- partly natural and partly cultural. Thus, it goes
native elements, which may have limited biodiver- beyond the field of natural sciences to integrate
sity value, yet impart strong cultural and scenic those from social sciences, the humanities and
value, such as the Tuscany landscape, typified by its local knowledge, in a transdisciplinary approach
cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens), though (Tress & Tress, 2001). Winterhalder, Clewell, and
introduced by the Phoenicians. The maintenance Aronson (2004) claim that the future of ecological
of these heritage elements contrasts with the restoration lies in becoming more interdisciplinary
conventional objectives of ecosystem restoration, and integrative with respect to its scientific and
which often include the control or eradication of value-based components.
alien species. A more complicated example is the We can consider four different operational
so-called ‘mimosa’ (Acacia melanoxylon), which components of a cultural landscape:
originally introduced from Australia for the per-
fume industry has subsequently escaped and widely (a) Landscape composition and configuration:
naturalised. This species is of great concern to These address the spatial patterns of the
4 F. Moreira et al.

landscape; individual elements (e.g. landforms, place, different time, and (d) same place, same
ecosystems, land uses) and the way in which time (auto reference). As applied to landscapes: (a)
they are organised strongly influence landscape the information on composition and configuration
services and physiognomy, as well as human can be obtained from well-preserved landscape
perception and valuation. portions; (b) integrative research on land use
(b) Traditional techniques of land management: changes can inform landscape restoration (Silber-
These have enabled landscapes to be created nagel, 2005), preferably if data are available from
through time, including animal traction, live- the same location; (c) data from other sites with
stock grazing (including the use of local races), similar temporal and spatial conditions can be
equipment and tools, cultivation techniques potentially valuable; (d) due to the retention of
and the organisation of work (individually or land use legacies (Foster et al., 2003), contempor-
communal). ary evidence can also inform about past land-
(c) Linear and point features: These mostly result scapes. In addition, the reference landscape could
from (a) and (b), yet are considered separately even be a painted or a literary landscape, which
as they may form an independent part of allows some elements of the landscape character to
landscape restoration, including stonewalls, be valuated and, through a social identification
terraces, tracks, hedgerows, small forest process, to become the key features of the land-
patches, ponds, etc. scape identity. Examples include the mountain
(d) Other heritage features: These include the Saint-Victoire (France) made famous by Cezanne’s
ethnography associated with traditional tech- paintings or the Concorde region (New England,
niques and tools, architecture, dialects, music, Massachusetts) described in detail by H.D. Thoreau.
oral tradition, place names (toponyms), specific
forms of social organisation, etc.
Landscape restoration versus rehabilitation

Defining the reference landscape Based on the terminology used for ecosystems
(SER, 2004), ‘‘landscape restoration’’ can be
Restoring means repairing something to its defined as the process of assisting the recovery of
‘‘original’’ or predisturbance condition. In ecologi- a landscape that has lost diversity, coherence and
cal restoration this original condition is called the identity. Landscape restoration implies the recov-
‘‘reference system’’, which helps identify restora- ery of the four components of the cultural land-
tion goals within acceptable ranges of variability scape. This might prove difficult or even
(Aronson, Floret, Le Floc’h, Ovalle, & Pontanier, impossible, depending on the degradation stage in
1993b; Egan & Howell, 2001; Holl, Crone, & comparison to the reference landscape, besides
Schultz, 2003; Society for Ecological Restoration changing tastes and various socio-economic drivers.
(SER) Science and Policy Working Group, 2004; Similarly to ecosystem rehabilitation (SER, 2004),
White & Walker, 1997). However, often only we use the term ‘‘landscape rehabilitation’’ when
fragments of ecosystems survive as potential full restoration is not possible. This implies working
references for ecological restoration. For land- in just a few of the four components of landscape
scapes, the many layers of history and culture make restoration, and achieving partial recovery, in
the choice of references highly arbitrary (Aronson & comparison with the reference landscape. Often,
Vallejo, 2005) and often incomplete in terms of only landscape rehabilitation can be carried out
composition, relationships and functions. and choices have to be made. Should priority be
Antrop (2005) argues that to understand con- given to landscape composition and configuration,
temporary European landscapes, three periods for ecological and aesthetical purposes, or should it
have to be recognised: (a) the pre-18th century; be focused on maintaining traditional management
(b) the period of expanding industrialisation; and techniques and cultural values? And who should
(c) post-war. Therefore, a first step in establishing a decide these priorities? Local people or regional
reference landscape is to locate its corresponding governments? Robertson, Nichols, Horwitz, Bradly,
period of origin. Additionally, a search for informa- and Mackintoh (2000) argue that ‘‘restoration in
tion sources concerning the landscape components fragmented agricultural landscapes requires an
is needed. White and Walker (1997) defined four understanding of and respect for cultural attributes
types of references for ecosystems, yet applicable of landscapes, including the beliefs, values, and
to landscapes, combining place and time: (a) perceptions people hold about their local environ-
different place, same time (refuges); (b) same ment, such as a sense of loss felt for particular
place, different time (archaeology); (c) different landscape components, features, or functions’’.
Restoring cultural landscapes 5

Even when a rehabilitated landscape ‘‘looks like’’ Reference landscape

the reference landscape, we should be aware of its

Cultural landscape component levels

pastiche or patchwork condition; authenticity is
never recovered and some elements might have
been definitively lost (e.g. species, traditional Max

shepherds or architectonical elements). In some Rehabilitation stage

cases they could be replaced by similar ones for Min
a b c

ensuring desirable ecological, economic and

aesthetical functions. Furthermore, the restored Rehabilitation stage
landscape has a history of degradation and recov- Rehabilitation
ery, and maintains memories from all the time
periods. In the end, the result is what could be
called an ‘‘emerging landscape’’. According to Degraded stage
Hobbs et al. (2006), ‘‘emergent ecosystems’’ are
those that result when species occur in combina-
tions and relative abundances that have not Time
previously occurred within a given biome. Similarly,
Figure 1. The ‘‘mixer board’’ landscape model and
‘‘emerging landscapes’’ can and will combine
evolution of cultural landscape degradation and restora-
substitute elements and/or alternative processes tion/rehabilitation over time (based on Hobbs & Norton,
along with native ones. As Harris, Hobbs, Higgs, and 1996).
Aronson (in press) have noted, climate change The ‘‘mixer board’’ model assumes that the four
creates a volatile new context, which may favour operational components of a landscape ((a) landscape
combinations not known from previous analogues. composition and configuration; (b) traditional techniques
Figure 1 summarises the theoretical evolution of and tools; (c) linear and point features; and (d) other
cultural landscape degradation and restoration/ heritage features) can be seen as ‘fader keys’. Each of
rehabilitation over time, using a ‘‘mixer board’’ the components varies between a maximum and a
landscape model. minimum level (equivalent to total loss of the compo-
nent). In the real world, two or more components will be
linked and thus the ‘fader keys’ will not move indepen-
dently of each other.
Spatial approaches to landscape restoration In the reference landscape, the fader keys of all
components are set to a maximum. As degradation
Because of the large scale of landscape manage- occurs, one or more components will progressively move
ment projects, they are usually technically com- into lower levels, frequently with a differential speed
plex and costly. Furthermore, these projects may (e.g. traditional techniques will probably be lost at a
conflict with different stakeholders’ interests, faster rate than landscape composition or configuration).
independently of their concern for landscape Rehabilitation implies moving up some or all of the fader
protection. Thus, they generally cannot, and should keys. There can be a variety of rehabilitation stages,
not, be pursued without intensive, serious con- depending on the levels of improvement in the various
sultation with and involvement of local people. components. In the absence of rehabilitation actions or if
rehabilitation fails, the degradation stage will be main-
These kind of difficulties may lead to a choice
tained or worsened. In a restored landscape all keys are
between restoring small museum landscapes (that set to a maximum.
is, small areas preserved in their entirety primarily
for educational purposes) (EEA, 1995) or rehabili-
tating larger areas for ecological, economic and life
quality purposes. dictate change, as well as changing global con-
In the first option, all the four above-mentioned texts. Thus, restoring and preserving a museum
components are addressed, and the end stage landscape may require non-ending interventions.
resembles the reference landscape. Behind this
option is the concept of landscape as a patrimony,
i.e. something that should be maintained in a A case study: Terras do Demo, a literary
meta-stable and resilient condition for the future territory
generations. However, in a changing world it is
unrealistic to attempt to ‘freeze’ a landscape in In the north-eastern part of Portugal (Beira Alta),
the avatar of its development at a particular time the so-called Terras do Demo region corresponds to
in its long evolution (IUCN, 2000). In fact, the a literary territory created and named by the
dynamic natural and social elements of a landscape Portuguese writer, Aquilino Ribeiro (1895–1963).
6 F. Moreira et al.

His detailed descriptions of the rural landscape Traditional manual techniques of land manage-
created a reference landscape (Queiroz, 2006). We ment have been replaced by mechanisation and
summarise the main changes which have occurred chemical fertilisation. As an example, brushwood-
in each of the four operational landscape compo- cutting traditionally occurred communally in au-
nents during the last 50 years. Fig. 2 illustrates tumn on the common lands. Brushwood was used to
what is left in the current ‘‘degraded stage’’, for cover the stable floors, and subsequently as a soil
each landscape component. fertiliser. Currently, there are no people or eco-
Landscape composition and configuration is still nomic reasons for continuing the cut–grow cycle,
characterised by a small-scale land use mosaic of while carts and other vehicles of animal traction
farmlands (ager), shrublands and grasslands are being replaced by tractors and trucks.
(saltus) and forests (sylva). However, ager has been Linear features, such as stone walls, are char-
decreasing and saltus and sylva increasing due to acteristic of the reference landscape. Although,
afforestation, land abandonment and recurrent persisting on abandoned lands, some are ruined and
wildfires (Queiroz, 2005). Furthermore, crop fields many are being dismantled and sold off for
have been progressively replaced by more profit- decorative stones in new buildings outside the
able uses, such as chestnut groves, pastures, region.
orchards or vineyards. The typical sheep and goat Other heritage features include the rich vocabu-
livestock are disappearing, which results in pro- lary used to describe this literary landscape, which
gressive shrub encroachment. Biodiversity changes produced in part the local language related to
have also occurred. The writer mentioned the territory and landscape. It includes names of places
occurrence of the great-bustard (Otis tarda) in (toponyms), land use types, geomorphologic pat-
the Leomil Highlands, which no longer exists terns, techniques, tools and activities linked to
(Queiroz & Andresen, 2006), while the wolf (Canis land management. While remaining in the litera-
lupus), common in the time of Aquilino, is ture, the common use of these terms has been lost
endangered in this region. as elder farmers and shepherds disappeared. But at

Figure 2. What is left from the ‘‘aquilinian landscape’’? (a) Ager-saltus-sylva land use mosaic (Lapa Highlands); (b)
villager driving a cart (Quintela, Sernancelhe); (c) stone walls dividing pasture fields (Alvite, Moimenta da Beira); and
(d) local newspaper (Moimenta da Beira).
Restoring cultural landscapes 7

the same time, the cultural value attributed to Aronson gratefully acknowledges the European
Aquilino as an icon of the region, has inspired new Commission for support of the CREAOK project
designations for places, associations, commercial FP5: QLRT-2001-01594. Ana Isabel Queiroz was
institutions and products (e.g. the local newspaper funded by Grant SFRH/BD/8132/2002 from the
title). Fundac-ão para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

Final remarks
Cultural landscape restoration considers both
Antrop, M. (2005). Why landscapes of the past are
biodiversity and cultural perspectives, including
important for the future. Landscape and Urban
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and planning. of degraded ecosystems. I. A view from the South.
Landscape restoration should form part of the Restoration Ecology, 1, 8–17.
concepts for landscape protection legally ad- Aronson, J., Floret, C., Le Floc’h, E., Ovalle, C., &
dressed by the European Landscape Convention Pontanier, R. (1993b). Restoration and rehabilitation of
and currently accepted by scientists, managers and degraded ecosystems. II. Case studies in Chile, Tunisia
the general public. Throughout its jurisdictional and Cameroon. Restoration Ecology, 1, 168–187.
area, countries have carried out steps towards Aronson, J., & Le Floc’h, E. (1996a). Que faire de tant de
notions du paysage? Natures, Sciences, Sociétés, 4,
making inventories and classifying their landscapes
(e.g. Cancela de Abreu, Pinto-Correia, & Oliveira,
Aronson, J., & Le Floc’h, E. (1996b). Vital landscape
2004, for Portugal). At a European level, the attributes: Missing tools for restoration ecology.
European Environment Agency is promoting a Restoration Ecology, 4, 377–387.
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