Track 6: INTEGRATING OLD AND NEW – BUILDINGS, DISTRICTS, and LANDSCAPES / Volet 6: Intégrer l’ancien et le nouveau – Immeubles, quartiers et paysages

'Improving Sustainability in Cultural Landscapes with Ecosystem Services'

Friday, October 13
10:30 AM - 12:15 PM

Arguing that we are at a crossroads to continue successful preservation in the face of climate change and other threats, this paper questions how the application of ecosystem services could enhance the resiliency of cultural landscapes under the existing Secretary of the Interior’s (SOI) Standards. Experts have repeatedly called for new methods to improve sustainability and resiliency, such as LEED, SITES, VerSus, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Yet while these all mention and acknowledge the importance and role of culture and heritage, none of them successfully integrate them. This absence is representative of the more pervasive chasm between cultural resource management and natural resource management. When cultural and natural resource management remain siloed off from each other, their understanding of the landscape becomes fragmented and inaccurate, leading to ineffective and even harmful management of these irreplaceable resources.
Currently, many cultural landscapes across the US are suffering from demolition or ill-conceived preservation and rehabilitation treatments, some of which have received LEED and SITES certification. Looking at recent case studies from New Mexico to New York to Spain, this paper interrogates the differences between how sustainability metrics are prescribed versus how it functions in practice, identifying the ways in which we could harvest upon these programs’ successful ecosystem services to develop a new framework that will increase sustainability in cultural landscapes. This analysis mainly focuses on SITES, studying how and why it excels at ecosystem services but falls short of acknowledging and protecting cultural resources, ignores landscapes’ complex and layered history, especially that of human interaction with the environment.
To develop guidelines to successfully manage change in a landscape, we must successfully bridge the gap in strategies and practices for both cultural and natural resources. Many places, including Carlsbad Caverns and Mesa Verde National Parks, received SITES certification, but undermined historic integrity and irrevocably destroyed cultural and historic resources while doing so. This paper seeks to begin to identify the dictionary of mutually misunderstood words and concepts between cultural and natural resource management to bring the two in dialogue with each other. Currently, the NPS only explores the possibility of increasing sustainability and resiliency in one of the four approaches to the treatment of historic properties—rehabilitation. Addressing this absence for landscapes that might require preservation, restoration, or reconstruction, I argue we can only increase sustainability and resiliency in cultural landscapes if we better define and integrate the cultural into the framework of eco-system services.

Learning Objectives:

Kathleen M. Conti

PhD Student
University of Texas at Austin

Kathleen Conti, a doctoral student in architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, focuses her studies on historic preservation, sustainability, and social equity. Her previous work as a Eurasian historian lends a transnational and transdisciplinary approach to her research. She has collaborated with the National Park Service on projects from creating a preservation and interpretation plan for Badlands National Park to studying climate change and developing guidelines to increase sustainability in cultural landscapes. Most recently, she worked in Virginia as the Rudy J. Favretti Historic Landscape Research Fellow, documenting the historic landscape of Berkeley Plantation.


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Tamara Anson-Cartwright

Tamara Anson-Cartwright is a Program Manager at the City of Toronto Planning Division (Heritage Preservation Services in Urban Design). Tamara manages a dynamic research and policy team focused on developing Heritage Conservation Districts and delivering the City’s heritage incentive programs and heritage evaluation of properties and cultural heritage landscapes for inclusion on the City's Heritage Register. She is currently leading a feasibility study for establishing a citywide heritage survey. Prior to joining City Planning in 2015, Tamara was a Heritage Advisor in the Ontario Government for more than 25 years developing policies, programs and services for the conservation of heritage properties throughout the province including the "Standards and Guidelines for Conservation of Provincial Heritage Properties" and publications on conserving historic cemeteries and places of worship.


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'Improving Sustainability in Cultural Landscapes with Ecosystem Services'

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