The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship
Claudia Bieling and Tobias Plieninger
Cambridge University Press, £39.99
Compatibility between profitable farming and the conservation of environmentally sustainable landscapes is a vital challenge economically, politically and socially. Providing adequate nutrition to promote health and wellbeing in populations while maintaining wildlife biodiversity in landscapes that minimise climate change is probably the biggest challenge facing communities worldwide.
The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship contributes towards answering this challenge, reporting in considerable detail the outcomes of the European ‘Sustainable Futures for Europe’s Heritage in Cultural Landscapes: Tools for understanding, managing, and protecting landscape functions and values’ (HERCULES) project. The participants’ primary intention is “to investigate, both academically and practically, how and why people act as stewards in a diversity of landscapes in Europe and beyond”.
In reporting these outcomes, the editors and their colleagues have achieved an eminently readable and absorbing book. Their task was indeed Herculean, with 19 contributions encompassing landscape management in environments of immense diversity across Europe and involving projects from Scandinavia to Greece.
All those engaged in developing and implementing schemes for landscape stewardship – from those who work directly with farming communities to civil servants and academics – will benefit from reading this book. It will also provide a most useful textbook for students and their teachers involved with agri-environmental and conservation courses.
A second volume setting landscape stewardship into the context of practical farm management is now urgently required. That will provide a pair of comprehensive perspectives relevant for all landscape users and owners.
Professor Geoffrey R Dixon FRSB