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1017 Evolution of the British Landscape

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From the ice age to modern urban landscapes

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1017 Evolution of the British Landscape

  1. 1. Evolution of the landscapes of Great Britain<br />Lecturer: Julian Swindell<br />
  2. 2. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />
  3. 3. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />
  4. 4. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />
  5. 5. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />
  6. 6. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />The ice age was just ending<br />
  7. 7. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />The ice age was just ending<br />The land was scraped clean<br />
  8. 8. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />The ice age was just ending<br />The land was scraped clean<br />All that existed was a rocky surface, scored by torrents of glacial melt water<br />
  9. 9. Great Britain: 10,000 BC<br />The ice age was just ending<br />The land was scraped clean<br />All that existed was a rocky surface, scored by torrents of glacial melt water<br />Sea levels rose and Great Britain became an island<br />
  10. 10. What came next?<br />
  11. 11. What came next?<br />
  12. 12. What came next?<br />
  13. 13. What came next?<br />
  14. 14. What came next?<br />Temperatures rose, trees grew<br />
  15. 15. What came next?<br />Temperatures rose, trees grew<br />Wildwood, 10,000 – 5,000 BC<br />
  16. 16. What came next?<br />Temperatures rose, trees grew<br />Wildwood, 10,000 – 5,000 BC<br />Temperate rain forests covered Britain<br />
  17. 17. What came next?<br />Temperatures rose, trees grew<br />Wildwood, 10,000 – 5,000 BC<br />Temperate rain forests covered Britain<br />Modern people arrived<br />
  18. 18. What came next?<br />Temperatures rose, trees grew<br />Wildwood, 10,000 – 5,000 BC<br />Temperate rain forests covered Britain<br />Modern people arrived<br />They started to farm…<br />
  19. 19. The landscape as it was before people altered it<br />After Rackham 1997 p 34<br />
  20. 20. The English landscape as it is now<br />England’s landscape is fragmented into a patchwork of land cover and land use types<br />What we think of a essentially a “natural” landscape is almost entirely the result of human activity<br />Farming was the first big change, then urbanisation<br />English Nature Natural Areas<br />
  21. 21. What drives change in the landscape?<br />The fundamental internal drivers of the landscape change could be:<br />Geology: The rocks that build the land<br />Climate: The rain, the wind, the heat, the cold<br />Geomorphology: The shape of the land<br />Ecology: life and all its interactions<br />The major external driver is human activity<br />
  22. 22. Human influence: farming<br />Most of humanity moved from a hunter gatherer economy to an agricultural one in the stone age, starting about 5,000 years ago, and continues…<br />Hunter gatherers are believed to have lived in an ecological relationship to the landscape and to have had only small impacts on it. This idea is challenged…<br />Agriculture arose in four places, Mesopotamia, China, Mesoamerica and Papua New Guinea<br />Farmers intentionally alter the landscape to increase its crop and animal production capacity. <br />This leads to the rural landscape<br />
  23. 23. Types of contemporary rural landscape<br />Woodland, wood pasture, parkland<br />Grassland and heathland<br />Moorland<br />Wetland<br />Farmland<br />
  24. 24. Woodland<br />Wildwood is woodland completely untouched by people, no clearance, no removal of timber, no planting of trees. There is none left in GB<br />Ancient woodland is land which has been continuously wooded for known history, but it has all been affected by human activity.<br />Managed woodland will have been cleared, coppiced, pollarded, planted, grazed by livestock. The vast majority of British woodland is managed plantation.<br />
  25. 25. Wood pasture and park land<br />Where woodland and livestock are raised together, the predominant landscape is wood pasture<br />The traditional term forest really refers to wood pasture rather than dense woodland<br />Wood pasture can take the form of <br />Open woodland: New Forest and Epping Forest<br />Park land: primarily grazed grassland with isolated standard trees: almost any English country house<br />
  26. 26. Grassland<br />Few areas of “natural grassland” in England<br />Most grassland is pasture or crop (called a ley locally)<br />Grassland is maintained by cutting or browsing (sometimes burning), which produce different plant communities and landscapes<br />Grazed Cotswold pastures and common land<br />Tropical guinea grass cut for animal fodder,<br />Now being considered as a bio-mass fuel in the UK<br />
  27. 27. Moorland<br />Wet and acid soil<br />Moorland supports heather but is dominated by sphagnum moss, which holds water and does not decay when submerged<br />Moors are a product of rain. Plant remains in wet soil do not rot but build up into peat. Great areas of the north of GB and Ireland are covered in Blanket bog, unbroken miles of peat moor.<br />
  28. 28. Heath<br />Heath: cleared, non-acidic, dry land which develops a heather/bracken plant community<br />Will be invaded by trees<br />Often maintained by burning<br />Very threatened landscape <br />These photographs show heathland around Poole Harbour in Dorset, which has to be actively maintained by tree clearance and controlled burning to prevent it reverting to forest<br />
  29. 29. Wetland<br />East Anglia<br />Waterlogged land<br />Highly variable in extent and location<br />Critically affected by water level<br />Crucial to flood control and coastal protection<br />Probably the richest habitat in temperate climates<br />Can provide the richest farmland in the country… <br />Vietnam<br />India<br />
  30. 30. Rivers<br />Amongst the oldest features of the landscape, a product of a landscape’s internal drivers, geology, climate and geomorphology<br />Nearly all cities and towns were sited on rivers for water and transport<br />Fraser, Canada<br />Mekong, Vietnam<br />Ardeche, France<br />
  31. 31. The farming landscape<br />Permanent crops: trees, vines<br />Annual crops: grains, tubers<br />Livestock: grazing and fodder<br />
  32. 32. Landscape with buildings: the beginning of urbanism<br />Buildings have always been in the countryside<br />When they come together, they create a new landscape<br />
  33. 33. Growth of villages and towns<br />When buildings come together, they are more than just a group of buildings<br />The spaces between become just as important as the buildings themselves<br />They become villages and towns<br />
  34. 34. Cities; the ultimate human landscape?<br />Eventually, towns becomes cities, entirely artificial landscapes, built by people<br />In 2007 it was estimated that over 50% of the World’s population lives in cities, the first time in history<br />
  35. 35. Urban landscape ~ ”townscape”<br />Cities consist of buildings and the spaces between them<br />Their interaction creates “townscape”<br />Architectural design considers<br />Architectural style<br />Scale<br />Materials<br />Street furniture<br />Interaction between building and context<br />Cities also require systems to provide resources which are delivered from the rural landscape<br />Food, water, energy … <br />
  36. 36. Urban design: management of landuse<br />Town and country planning acts<br />Development control<br />Aims to conserve a finite resource: land<br />Conservation movements<br />Importance of history<br />Cherished landscapes<br />
  37. 37. The final edge to the landscape, the Sea<br />English Channel<br />Defines the shape of maritime countries<br />Erodes cliffs, deposits sand banks<br />Controls temperature<br />Provides the rain<br />Used as a sink for all of humanity’s waste<br />Indian Ocean<br />
  38. 38. And finally<br />Sustainable landscapes<br />The conservation of the landscape in the present so that it may be enjoyed in the future<br />Sustainability is at the core of everything you will study at the RAC<br />"..development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" Brundtland report 1987 “Our Common Future”<br />

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