The roles of cultural values in landscape management
: valuing the 'more-than-visual' in Highland Scotland

  • Amy Elizabeth Holden

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    There have been calls within landscape (and broader environmental) policy for the greater incorporation of cultural values and stakeholder participation. This, however, has often been critiqued within the academic literature as being difficult to achieve in practice. Concurrently, academic research around ‘landscape’ has seen an emergence of exploring more embodied, experiential and ‘more-than-visual’ ways of knowing, challenging the more traditional concept of ‘landscape’ as a ‘way of seeing’ and a cultural product. This research explored the multiple ways that people value landscapes using walking interviews, arts-based methods and key-informant interviews (with local and national landscape managers). It explored the potential of visual and ‘more-than-visual’ methods to both engage and articulate with more subjective, emotional and embodied encounters with landscapes. This was then used to explore the potential and challenges of adopting cultural and more participative approaches to landscape management. After an initial analysis of the data gathered through the methods, this was then used as part of feedback events within the two case study areas to allow the participants of the research and the broader local community to engage with the work.

    This research argues that ‘landscape’ as a concept, when approached from a ‘more-than-visual’ perspective, highlighted that the inherently visual concept is bound up within a much broader sensory immersion within the landscape. The research demonstrated the complex and interconnected relationship between people and the landscape through the concept of ‘dwelling’ emphasising the lived-in, everyday encounters with landscape. This relationship is tied up within past individual experiences, shared social and cultural history as well as the material landscape itself arguing for a more ‘hybrid’ understanding of people and landscape. Furthermore, the research highlighted both the potential and challenges of participative approaches with multiple landscape stakeholders and challenges the ‘homogenous’ perspective of ‘community’ within management rhetoric. There is an argument for more partnership working between multiple stakeholders to generate trust and dialogue. It argues for the creation of spaces within which the more politically sensitive issues in relation to landscape management can be discussed and the potential for solutions to be created.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council, UK
    SupervisorFiona Smith (Supervisor)


    • Landscape
    • Landscape management
    • Cultural values
    • Arts-based methods
    • 'More-than-visual'
    • Highland Scotland
    • Geography

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