An International Scientific Committee of

Imagining a new future for cultural landscapes

Author: Wallace, Paula and Kristal Buckley
Date: 2015

Wallace, Paula and Kristal Buckley. 2015. Imagining a new future for cultural landscapes. Historic Environment 27(2): pp. 42-56.

The 1992 adoption of ‘cultural landscape’ as an additional type of recognition on the World Heritage List was supposed to be a ground-breaking moment for heritage management in Australia and New Zealand, as both countries had pushed for the recognition of continuing and associative landscapes to change the perceptions and practices of heritage. Yet fast-forward to 2015, and one might be left wondering what happened? While there is no longer a need to convince people of the value of cultural landscapes for heritage management, the incorporation of cultural landscape ideas and practices into our property-based ‘heritage frame’ with its preoccupation with land use and development controls appears to have stalled. At the same time, a growing community of heritage studies scholars are critical of heritage practice, and position cultural landscapes as an initiative that the World Heritage system was ‘forced’ to adopt in order ‘to incorporate a broader range of values around heritage’ (Harrison 2013: 115). This critique of the under-theorised heritage field has had some stimulating effects, but falls short of providing guidance for practitioners. To consider the aspirations and directions for the future for cultural landscapes within heritage practices, this paper suggests that we need to look at heritage theory and practice together, focussing on innovation wherever we find it, and develop further theorisation through our experiences. We suggest that innovation can come from local settings away from more formalised heritage processes, where communities, practitioners, managers and researchers are trying new things as a result of their encounters with cultural landscapes, and where they are learning and ‘knowing-by-doing’.