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People and the Land through TimeLinking Ecology and History, Second Edition$
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Emily W. B. Russell Southgate

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300225808

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300225808.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

History Hidden in the Landscape

History Hidden in the Landscape

(p.3) 1 History Hidden in the Landscape
People and the Land through Time

Emily W. B. Russell Southgate

Yale University Press

Using a wide variety of examples, this chapter emphasizes evidence that all landscapes and ecosystems today reflect not only climate change but also intensive and extensive past human impacts. They cannot be interpreted solely based on conditions evident today. The imprints of past human activities which can be obvious or subtle, must be unraveled for understanding the system today. Historical ecology integrates various drivers of change, and stability, using interdisciplinary methods, to provide a deeper understanding of structure and function today. Conservation seeks in some places to maintain ecosystems that have arisen over centuries or even millennia due to human impact, for example, ancient woodlands and upland meadows in Europe. In many parts of the world such ancient systems are reservoirs of high biodiversity. Historical research illuminates the historical factors that contribute to this diversity, assisting in planning for conservation. A major point is that ecologists are apt to make mistakes in interpreting patterns and processes as well as in conservation and restoration if they do not consider the history of sites, which provides evidence of past variability and of processes that have led to the current conditions of the system.

Keywords:   landscape, human impact, drivers of change, ancient woodlands, meadows, biodiversity, conservation, restoration

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