Who is afraid of transition? Monitoring the impact of transformation on historical rural landscapes as indicator of communities' changing needs

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Rural landscapes are a productive heritage. Consequently, these sites can be representative, more than others, of the quantitative and qualitative impact of macro-phenomena related to transition by monitoring transformations acting over them. This heritage is recently at the centre of a strong interest and debate. The challenges posed by a constantly transforming and stressed heritage led to an urgent need, emerged in particular in the last fifteen years, of an integrated approach that could cope with a complex background of issues, such as exogenous and endogenous pressures. However, at first instance, preservation approaches applied over historical rural landscapes focussed on a “crystallization” of these sites, although their intrinsic dynamism. Accordingly, some are the recent management tools dedicated specifically to this heritage, aimed to integrate preservation and planning policies (e.g. GIAHS, FAO). Their effectiveness is based on two main pillars, which differentiates them from previous approaches: first, the direct involvement of communities that have shaped, maintained and inhabited these sites over time, through an examination of newer needs derived from a recent opening to a globalized world; second, the definition of site-specific management plans able to change accordingly to the results of a participate monitoring over time, in the perspective of the definition of a win/win methodology including all the stakeholders involved (communities, agencies, institutions). The paper evidences the contraposition between the “fear” of an inevitable transformation and the potentialities they can generate as indicator of the transition effects on rural landscapes in time. Thus, the development of policies aimed to a dynamic preservation of this heritage must consider an accompanied and mutual support to transition between communities and professionals. To discuss this scenario, a comparison over the application of management and preservation approaches in two rural landscapes sites is given, to outline potentialities and critical aspects.
Rural landscapes, integrated approaches, monitoring, dynamic conservation, communities