Journal article
Towards an indicator-based assessment of cultural heritage as a cultural ecosystem service – A case study of Scottish landscapes

Publication Details
Stanik, N.; Aalders, I.; Miller, D.
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Ecological Indicators
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The cultural heritage of landscapes makes an important contribution to people’s local identity, which enhances the human-nature relationship and informs decision making. However, cultural heritage assessments in the context of cultural ecosystem services are still challenged by the lack of coherent methods to assess the spatial distribution of cultural heritage. This paper addresses the questions: how can complex cultural heritage be captured with objective indicators and how are cultural heritage values spatially distributed in Scotland? The aim of this paper is to develop an indicator-based framework for the mapping of cultural heritage, which will be tested for its applicability by assessing cultural heritage in a Scottish national level case study. The developed hierarchical framework includes both, indicators related to historic land uses (Time Depth) and historic elements (Historic Richness) that are aggregated to a higher methodological level for mapping the spatial distribution of cultural heritage value.

The application of the framework in the case study has shown its capability to assess the spatial and temporal distribution of cultural heritage in Scottish landscapes. The results identify landscapes that represent cultural heritage hotspots of Scotland (e.g. crofting landscapes, settlements shaped by early industrialisation or the Drumlin Lowlands). Different landscape units and classes are highlighted by either historic land use or elements, which underline the specific contribution of different indicators to the overall cultural heritage indicator. Land use-based indicators highlight landscapes with early-introduced, medium-dynamic land use patterns, while element-based indicators highlight landscapes with a long tradition of settlements.

The proposed framework emphasises the importance of systematic indicators for cultural heritage, which reflect both quantitative and qualitative aspects of human influence on land use and the built environment. These aspects are difficult to include in a single indicator. The findings can improve the integration of cultural heritage values in decision-making processes and the development of more objectively assessable indicators for other cultural ecosystems services.

Last updated on 2018-31-10 at 14:42