Bottom-up heritage projects?

Too often conservation projects are imposed from the top onto local communities with little genuine local involvement. A recent article compares an area of common land at St Breward on the edge of Bodmin Moor with a community in western Galicia. It calls for more understanding of local knowledge and traditional management practices when undertaking conservation projects.

Cornish hedge at St Breward

It states that despite ‘growing evidence of how indigenous peoples and local communities, through their knowledge and traditional management practices, play an active and effective role in ecosystem restoration, carbon sequestration and prevention of environmental degradation, such groups continue to be considered mostly as passive recipients of restoration work while their cultural practices remain ignored.’

It also expands the definition of cultural heritage to include the biological make-up of heritage sites, something that is termed ‘biological cultural heritage’. Given the amount of litter that we see casually discarded in heritage sites these days one could be a little cynical about the ability or willingness of local communities to respond to the call to preserve their biological heritage. Are too many of us now too alienated from our natural environment?

For a more detailed summary of the article see here and for the article itself here.

3 thoughts on “Bottom-up heritage projects?

  1. Exploring a bit further I found that Frojám is a commons community where EU subsidised mining ventures are threatening their lands. State land seizures have taken place and the mine company SACYR have ignored local concerns. There was even a suspicious forest fire on the land after talks broke down. The run-off of heavy metals has affected mussel beds downstream. The commons community is fighting big business, the Govt and the EU to retain their traditional ecology. It seems there is more to the Frojám story than pure heritage restoration with some interesting parallels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the worst things happening in Cornwall, and particularly in our parish, is the ripping out of ancient gateways into fields – the old granite uprights, which must have taken many days to erect and which have stood the test of centuries. Where is the wonder and appreciation of this wonderful structures, and where is the appreciation of their archaeological significance? And, what is the purpose of this barbarism in fields given over only to sheep and cattle? The use of a vast tractor just once a year perhaps?

    The second terrible thing is the flailing of hedges to be trim and square and very low, with no space for birds to nest safely away from predators. This also causes diminished biodiversity when it comes to plants which need a variety of habitats to flourish – and hence all the diversity associated with diverse flora reduces. And of course flooding and run-off increase.

    The third terrible thing is the use of barbed wire fencing against ancient Cornish hedges. All you then get is a massive increase in bramble and nettle. Good for a minimal number of wildlife species but overall this practice results in a massive loss of biodiversity. The cows no longer can explore the hedges and have no shade – they are curious creatures which love to explore and play, and so they undoubtedly suffer when their environment is simplified. Of course no one wants them to leave the field but layering etc and a general pride in maintaining the wonder of the ancient Cornish hedge was the way around that. The cost of the machinery to do all the flailing, the cost of the fences – these are very high and surely have something to do with showing off. The loss to our wild world and wonderful hedges such as the one you show in the photo is catastrophic.

    I saw an article about a fightback in Ireland among some farmers for better ecological practices and not flailing hedges out of existence – your farm is not a garden, they appealed to other farmers.


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