Landscape Imaginaries and the Protection of Dynamic Nature at the Wadden Sea

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Whereas the transgression of nature-culture dichotomies is commonplace in academic discourse, contemporary practices of nature conservation continue, in many cases, to be characterised by the active construction of fixed boundaries between spaces of nature and spaces of culture. In such contexts, nature constitutes a powerful discursive category, albeit one that is manifested differently across space and time. This paper advances a situated understanding of the spatialities and temporalities underlying contemporary practices of nature conservation through an empirical study of the concepts of nature and landscape informing management practices in the case of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park in northern Germany. Theoretically, the paper draws on and further develops the concept of landscape imaginaries as a means to analytically make sense of diverse situated understandings of landscape and nature-culture relations. The paper thus addresses the implications of essentialist concepts of nature and landscape for protected area management within the context of a rapidly changing world. It is found that in this case, a conservation philosophy focused on the protection of natural processes is constrained by the maintenance of a categorical distinction between natural and cultural landscapes. The paper concludes with a plea for an understanding of nature conservation in terms of place-based situated practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalRural Landscapes: Society, Environment, History
Issue number1
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 27.01.2020
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Geography - nature-culture dichotomies, National Park, landscape imaginaries, spatialities, temporalities, conservation, wadden sea