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Landscapes as Commons: Afforestation and the aesthetics of Landscapes

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ritter, E.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1371
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: Europe
Subject(s): afforestation
landscape change
land tenure and use
Abstract: "Afforestation can change a landscape distinctively, partly due to the choice of tree species, partly due to the design of forest stands. Visible changes in a landscape can have a strong emotional effect on people as the main part of our perception of landscape occurs through the sense of sight. Furthermore, the contact to nature can be considered as a basic need of human beings. Landscapes and the aesthetics of landscapes should therefore be considered as valuable commons, and forest managers and landscape designers should be aware of their influence. In this paper, afforestation is used as an example for cross-scale interactions of different interests, because afforestation activities in most countries are driven by many other than scenic aspects. An Icelandic study shows how interests of forestry and land reclamation could be combined with the interests of people in the beauty of the landscape. Due to radical deforestation in the first centuries of the settlement, Iceland has lost most of its forests, and people are generally used to the open landscape. For this reason, it is important to act sensitively when establishing the new forests that are highly needed in order to fight the ongoing soil erosion. Especially the exotic evergreen trees used in Icelandic afforestation programmes change the appearance of the Icelandic landscape. They catch the viewer's eye in winter time when the landscape is mostly brown during the absence of snow cover. A study on soil properties did not reveal major effects of tree species. Therefore, it is suggested that forest managers could neglect the effects on soil properties and base their decisions about the choice of trees species primarily on people's preferences."

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