264 years of change and persistence in an agrarian landscape: a case study from the Swiss lowlands | Land Portal

Informations sur la ressource

Date of publication: 
décembre 2015
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

CONTEXT: Century-long interaction between societies and their environment has shaped the cultural landscapes across Europe. Specific farming systems have persisted for long periods, and their abandonment has led to far-reaching and rapid changes in patterns of land use and land cover. OBJECTIVE: Taking the example of the municipality of Limpach, located in the Swiss lowlands, we studied the dynamics of cultural landscape and related driving forces in a long-term perspective. METHODS: Using various data types, we reconstruct 264 years of change and persistence and evaluated the processes involved. The sources permit not only the examination of land use and land cover change, but also linear elements (paths, waterways) and the study of changes in parcel structure. RESULTS: For centuries, efforts to increase the intensity and productivity of agriculture, such as the so-called “melioration projects”, which included extensive drainage of wetlands and the establishment of an efficient network of roads and paths, greatly influenced landscape changes. In the last few decades, driving forces not directly aiming at an intensification of agricultural production, but rather promoting ecologically valuable landscape elements, have left traces in the open landscape of Limpach. CONCLUSIONS: Changes are an inherent characteristic of cultural landscapes. However, the rates of changes are highly variable over time. While comparatively stable periods might be used as a reference/baseline and the region itself may be referred to as a traditional cultural landscape, such long periods should not be misinterpreted as being stable from a long term historical perspective.

Auteurs et éditeurs

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Bürgi, Matthias
Salzmann, Daniel
Gimmi, Urs


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