Landscape Ecology

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 229–237 | Cite as

Culture and changing landscape structure

  • Joan Iverson Nassauer


Culture changes landscapes and culture is embodied by landscapes. Both aspects of this dynamic are encompassed by landscape ecology, but neither has been examined sufficiently to produce cultural theory within the field. This paper describes four broad cultural principles for landscape ecology, under which more precise principles might be organized. A central underlying premise is that culture and landscape interact in a feedback loop in which culture structures landscapes and landscapes inculcate culture. The following broad principles are proposed:
  1. 1.

    Human landscape perception, cognition, and values directly affect the landscape and are affected by the landscape.

  2. 2.

    Cultural conventions powerfully influence landscape pattern in both inhabited and apparently natural landscapes.

  3. 3.

    Cultural concepts of nature are different from scientific concepts of ecological function.

  4. 4.

    The appearance of landscapes communicates cultural values.


Both the study of landscapes at a human scale and experimentation with possible landscapes, landscape patterns invented to accommodate ecological function, are recommended as means of achieving more precise cultural principles.


culture change perception theory landscape ecology 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing bv 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Iverson Nassauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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