The notion of cultural landscape in geographical research:

The landscape is a fundamental object of interest in geography. Being one of the oldest research topics in our scientific field, it has been dealt with in a number of academic dissertations. The notion of cultural landscape has a long tradition in geographical research. Cultural landscape is considered to be a landscape which has been transformed by man as the result of civilizational development. It is an evolutionary consequence of primary landscapes (natural landscapes, differing in zones and ranges) which existed on Earth until the Neolithic times. Reference books on geography and neighboring sciences, as well as landscape architecture, use dozens of definitions of the landscape (including cultural landscape - see definitions below). Recent years have seen increased interest of Polish geographers in this research category with regard to the concepts of precursors of that approach, which results from a more open attitude to humanistic contents in the period following the system transformation. Currently, great opportunities appear for cultural landscape research in terms of studies and application. This results from the fact that the subject matter has been abandoned for almost 50 years, which allows for proper distance and thought towards the object of the studies. It is also a consequence of the need for a critical look at the Polish space shaped in the postwar period and during the decade of dynamic system and economic transformation. With possibilities of cultural landscape interpretation provided by GIS and latest computer technology and tools, it is possible to combine the traditional approach and modern research methods, which helps to obtain new results and apply landscape analyses in particular regional research. Such proceedings are one of the methods of opening geography to practical objectives and projects. They show possible application of research results in comprehensive geographical publications regarding small areas, e.g. municipalities or cultural regions, as well as in spatial planning studies, recommendations for local spatial management plans, studies of impact on the environment, or protection plans for legally protected areas.

Definitions of landscape

Types of landscape:

  • Cultural landscape

  • The whole of objects and physical properties, visually noticeable expression of human culture on the surface of the ground, combining elements of the natural and cultural environment. Cultural landscape is the result of transformation of natural landscape by one or more cultural groups and various cultural elements overlapping in a particular fragment of the surface features over time. Natural space, subjected to the influence of human activities, adopts a cultural form, expressed in the form of the cultural landscape. Such landscape can be perceived as an anthropogenically shaped fragment of geographical space, created as the result of combined environmental and cultural influences, which make up a specific structure with regional distinctive features perceived as a peculiar set of surface features (Myga-Piątek, 2001, Nita, Myga-Piątek, 2006). The group of cultural (anthropogenic) landscapes can be further divided into subtypes basing on the dominating type of human activities and the degree of transformation of the natural environment. The following are the most commonly distinguished subtypes of landscapes:

    Rural landscape

    Urban landscape

    Industrial [engineering] landscape

    Post-mining [post-exploitation] landscape

    might be associated with the whole of mining phenomena and processes related to mining and post-mining stages (anthropogenic factors), objects and physical properties on the surface of the ground, in relation to a particular place and time. It is a result of mutual dynamic impact of various mining phenomena and processes, with dominating geological and geomorphological processes and anthropogenic factors. Prevalence of the latter causes the post-mining landscape to become a part of the cultural landscape. It is not simply a form of devastated natural landscape, but can be a new scenic value with the man and elements of human activities (e.g. pits, dumps, dumping grounds, mines, etc.) as dominating causative factors. Appropriate management of these objects may be a causative factor for new quality of cultural landscapes instead of degradation of the environment (Nita, 2010).

    Tourist landscape

    Artificial landscape

    arranged especially for the relaxation purposes for visitors. Artificial islands are created (e.g. in Persian Gulf), pools and beaches are built inside hotel buildings, decorated with artificial palms, flowers and plastic animals (such isolated tourist enclaves have been created e.g. in the Canaries, the Maldives, Tunisia or Egypt). There are numerous made-up, fairytale-like amusement parks - Disneylands, Legolands, Gaul villages, miniature parks, or dinosaur parks. Artificial landscapes are also built for the needs of the industry, the army or transport (Plit, 2010).

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