Landscape legacy is how historical events have impacted on the structure, composition, and function of the ecosystem. Some of these events include but is not limited to carbon accumulation, deforestation, natural disturbance, nitrification, selective logging, and soil organic matter depletion. This paper will focus on the article, “The Importance of Land-Use Legacies to Ecology and Conservation.” This scholarly article looks at the relations between land use and ecological conservation. To be precise, the paper will examine the value of environmental history on ecological science and how it can help in environmental planning and management in Europe.
The article examines the work of National Science Foundation of New England that set out in the 1980s to examine whether or not human history should be a research component of the effects of past history on the land. According to the scientists that worked in this program, studying the entire human history was of no use. What was significant was narrowing in on aspects such as acid rain, and exotic organisms as these were the consequences of human activity and impact on climate change. However, this view did not last long as the same scientist changed their minds and joined others who were involved in ecological studies, conservation work, and the management of natural resource across Europe. The later scientists had arrived at the conclusion that site history cannot be separated from ecosystem structure and function. They also had the opinion that for effective environmental policies to be developed, historical perspectives play a very key role.
This resolution had been informed by four factors. First, ecological studies have over years expanded to scales that are regional in scope. This means that human activities that formed history cannot be overlooked; Second, the discovery of cultural history in areas that were overlooked in the past; Third, the persistence in recognition of land legacies; Fourth, the relations of the power of history in future management, and also in the understanding of the current structure and functions of ecological environments.
Most of these findings are drawn from the work of Long Term Ecological Research program; a body of scientists that did their research at the Harvard Forest in New England in order to come up with these conclusions. Therefore, they have the scientific authority on issues of land use legacies, biology conservation, and natural resource management among other things that pertain to ecology. This is because they have been able to study drivers of ecosystems change in combination with archaeology, pale ecology, and dendrochronology, giving then unmatched insights into the issues of land legacies. Furthermore, they have been able to carry out experiments on a scale that can only be described as large and wide. This kind of approach has given them a unique position in this field of study and the authority that comes with it.
It is evident that the Long Term Ecological Research program did a thorough job in researching of the issues of land legacies in Europe. Their research shows that Landscape Legacy has an impact on the structure, composition, and function of the ecosystem. Therefore, it should form a very important part of ecological studies, natural resource management and future use and conservation of land resources not only in Europe but also other parts of the world. This is because the Long Term Ecological Research program did not only limit its work to Europe but also extended to other parts.
- Donohue, Kathleen, David R. Foster, and Glenn Motzkin. “Effects of the past and the present on species distribution: land-use history and demography of wintergreen.” Journal of Ecology 88, no. 2 (2000): 303-16.
- Foster, David et al. “The Importance of Land-Use Legacies to Ecology and Conservation.” BioScience 53, no. 1 (2003): 77.