A landscape is the visible features of an area of land, its landforms, and how they integrate with natural or man-made features, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal. A landscape includes the physical elements of geophysically defined landforms such as (ice-capped) mountains, hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, living elements of land cover including indigenous vegetation, human elements including different forms of land use, buildings, and structures, and transitory elements such as lighting and weather conditions. Combining both their physical origins and the cultural overlay of human presence, often created over millennia, landscapes reflect a living synthesis of people and place that is vital to local and national identity.
The character of a landscape helps define the self-image of the people who inhabit it and a sense of place that differentiates one region from other regions. It is the dynamic backdrop to people's lives. Landscape can be as varied as farmland, a landscape park or wilderness. The Earth has a vast range of landscapes including the icy landscapes of polar regions, mountainous landscapes, vast arid desert landscapes, islands, and coastal landscapes, densely forested or wooded landscapes including past boreal forests and tropical rainforests and agricultural landscapes of temperate and tropical regions. The activity of modifying the visible features of an area of land is referred to as landscaping.
Geomorphology is the scientific study of the origin and evolution of topographic and bathymetric features created by physical or chemical processes operating at or near Earth's surface. Geomorphologists seek to understand why landscapes look the way they do, to understand landform history and dynamics and to predict changes through a combination of field observations, physical experiments and numerical modeling. Geomorphology is practiced within physical geography, geology, geodesy, engineering geology, archaeology and geotechnical engineering. This broad base of interests contributes to many research styles and interests within the field.
The surface of Earth is modified by a combination of surface processes that sculpt landscapes, and geologic processes that cause tectonic uplift and subsidence, and shape the coastal geography. Surface processes comprise the action of water, wind, ice, fire, and living things on the surface of the Earth, along with chemical reactions that form soils and alter material properties, the stability and rate of change of topography under the force of gravity, and other factors, such as (in the very recent past) human alteration of the landscape. Many of these factors are strongly mediated by climate. Geologic processes include the uplift of mountain ranges, the growth of volcanoes, isostatic changes in land surface elevation (sometimes in response to surface processes), and the formation of deep sedimentary basins where the surface of Earth drops and is filled with material eroded from other parts of the landscape. The Earth surface and its topography therefore are an intersection of climatic, hydrologic, and biologic action with geologic processes.
Landscape ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems. This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development spatial patterns, and organizational levels of research and policy.
Landscape is a central concept in landscape ecology. It is, however, defined in quite different ways. For example: Carl Troll conceives of landscape not as a mental construct but as an objectively given 'organic entity', a harmonic individuum of space. Ernst Neef defines landscapes as sections within the uninterrupted earth-wide interconnection of geofactors which are defined as such on the basis of their uniformity in terms of a specific land use, and are thus defined in an anthropocentric and relativistic way.
The discipline of landscape science has been described as "bring[ing] landscape ecology and urban ecology together with other disciplines and cross-disciplinary fields to identify patterns and understand social-ecological processes influencing landscape change". A 2000 paper entitled "Geography and landscape science" states that "The whole of the disciplines involved in landscape research will be referred to as landscape science, although this term was used first in 1885 by the geographers Oppel and Troll". A 2013 guest editorial defines landscape science as "research that seeks to understand the relationship between people and their environment, with a focus on land use change and data pertaining to land resources at the landscape scale". The Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1979 defines landscape science as "the branch of physical geography that deals with natural territorial complexes (or geographic complexes, geosystems) as structural parts of the earth's geographic mantle" and states that "The basis of landscape science is the theory that the geographic landscape is the primary element in the physicogeo-graphical differentiation of the earth. Landscape science deals with the origin, structure, and dynamics of landscapes, the laws of the development and arrangement of landscapes, and the transformation of landscapes by the economic activity of man.", and asserts that it was founded in Russia in the early 20th century by L. S. Berg and others, and outside Russia by the German S. Passarge.
Integrated landscape management is a way of managing a landscape that brings together multiple stakeholders, who collaborate to integrate policy and practice for their different land use objectives, with the purpose of achieving sustainable landscapes. It recognises that, for example, one river basin can supply water for towns and agriculture, timber and food crops for smallholders and industry, and habitat for biodiversity; the way in which each one of these sectors pursues its goals can have impacts on the others. The intention is to minimise conflict between these different land use objectives and ecosystem services. This approach draws on landscape ecology, as well as many related fields that also seek to integrate different land uses and users, such as watershed management.
Proponents of integrated landscape management argue that it is well-suited to address complex global challenges, such as those that are the focus of the Sustainable Development Goals. Integrated landscape management is increasingly taken up at the national, local and international level, for example the UN Environment Programme states that "UNEP champions the landscape approach de facto as it embodies the main elements of integrated ecosystem management".
Landscape archaeology or landscape history is the study of the way in which humanity has changed the physical appearance of the environment - both present and past. Landscape generally refers to both natural environments and environments constructed by human beings. Natural landscapes are considered to be environments that have not been altered by humans in any shape or form. Cultural landscapes, on the other hand, are environments that have been altered in some manner by people (including temporary structures and places, such as campsites, that are created by human beings). Among archaeologists, the term landscape can refer to the meanings and alterations people mark onto their surroundings. As such, landscape archaeology is often employed to study the human use of land over extensive periods of time.Landscape archaeology can be summed up by Nicole Branton's statement:
The concept of cultural landscapes can be found in the European tradition of landscape painting. From the 16th century onwards, many European artists painted landscapes in favor of people, diminishing the people in their paintings to figures subsumed within broader, regionally specific landscapes.
The geographer Otto Schlüter is credited with having first formally used "cultural landscape" as an academic term in the early 20th century. In 1908, Schlüter argued that by defining geography as a Landschaftskunde (landscape science) this would give geography a logical subject matter shared by no other discipline. He defined two forms of landscape: the Urlandschaft (transl. original landscape) or landscape that existed before major human induced changes and the Kulturlandschaft (transl. 'cultural landscape') a landscape created by human culture. The major task of geography was to trace the changes in these two landscapes.
It was Carl O. Sauer, a human geographer, who was probably the most influential in promoting and developing the idea of cultural landscapes. Sauer was determined to stress the agency of culture as a force in shaping the visible features of the Earth's surface in delimited areas. Within his definition, the physical environment retains a central significance, as the medium with and through which human cultures act. His classic definition of a 'cultural landscape' reads as follows:
The World Heritage Committee identifies three categories of cultural landscape, ranging from (i) those landscapes most deliberately 'shaped' by people, through (ii) full range of 'combined' works, to (iii) those least evidently 'shaped' by people (yet highly valued). The three categories extracted from the Committee's Operational Guidelines, are as follows:
The Chinese garden is a landscape garden style which has evolved over three thousand years. It includes both the vast gardens of the Chinese emperors and members of the Imperial Family, built for pleasure and to impress, and the more intimate gardens created by scholars, poets, former government officials, soldiers and merchants, made for reflection and escape from the outside world. They create an idealized miniature landscape, which is meant to express the harmony that should exist between man and nature.A typical Chinese garden is enclosed by walls and includes one or more ponds, scholar's rocks, trees and flowers, and an assortment of halls and pavilions within the garden, connected by winding paths and zig-zag galleries. By moving from structure to structure, visitors can view a series of carefully composed scenes, unrolling like a scroll of landscape paintings. 041b061a72