Does the Conservation Status of a Caledonian Forest also Indicate Cultural Ecosystem Value?
The Black Wood of Rannoch is one of the largest remnants of ancient, semi-natural Caledonian pine forest in Scotland. It is culturally important as a location for aesthetic and spiritual experience, artistic inspiration, biocultural heritage and a sense of identity and belonging by local communities and urban visitors. Despite this, the values that inform its management are almost exclusively those associated with biodiversity conservation. This focus has proved very effective in protecting the forest from destructive economic interests. However, it could have two negative effects. First, it could continue to downplay the significance given to the full range of cultural benefits, and constrain their recognition and expression to those that are realised by a policy of conservation. Second, it could be used as a ‘precautionary principle’ to justify exclusion of visitors. This paper reports on a series of workshops, discussions, events and residencies, led by two environmental artists, to prompt a debate that rethinks existing narratives of the value and management of the Black Wood and the Caledonian forest more broadly. We analyse the range of cultural ecosystem services associated with the forest, and discuss how these might be realised through six alternative management scenarios. In conclusion, we suggest that the new concept of biocultural diversity offers a unifying principle with which to guide a new vision of social and ecological restoration.
KeywordsCaledonian forest Scots pine Cultural ecosystem services Aesthetics Woodland history Biocultural diversity
Primary funding for this project was provided by the ‘Imagining Natural Scotland’ programme of Creative Scotland. Match funding and support was provided by the Landscape Research Group and Forestry Commission Scotland, with additional in kind support from the Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, the Perth and Kinross Museum and Art Gallery and Forest Research. In addition, we would like to thank everyone who kindly gave their time, expertise and enthusiasm to the project by participating in discussions, workshops, events and residencies, in particular: Anne Benson, Rob Coope, Peter Fullarton, Andy Peace, Chris Quine, Mike Smith, Bid Strachan, Paul Tabbush, Charlie Taylor and Richard Thompson.
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