Collection international Statements to reclamation landscapes

Hans Renes, 2021 February 22:

„In the course of many centuries, agricultural landscapes have expanded in former forests and wetlands. Parts of these reclamations were done by individual farmers and resulted in irregular landscapes. But other projects were planned by experts and resulted in very regular landscapes. During the High Middle Ages a typical form was the row of farms, with each farm having one long strip of land connected to the farmyard (in German ‘Hufensiedlungen’). During the Early Modern Period, such row settlements were still founded, but most new reclamations consisted of regular block fields with dispersed settlement. 
In the reclamation of wetlands, a number of innovations came from the Low Countries and have been exported by farmers and experts to other parts of Europe and even beyond. This export started during the Middle Ages, but the majority post-medieval. The regular ‘Hufen’ settlements in the marshes around Bremen and Hamburg started in the early 12th Century and are some of the oldest. From these, most of these villages near Bremen have disappeared under urban extensions. The settlements of the Altes Land, along the Elbe downstream of Hamburg, are however preserved extremely well. The region also has developed additional characteristics, such as the outstanding collection of timber-framed houses and church organs, as well as an interesting shipping tradition and an extraordinary development of fruit growing.”  

Prof. Dr. Hans Renes
(1954) is a historical geographer at the University of Utrecht, Faculty of Geosciences and Professor of Heritage Studies at the Free University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Human Sciences.
He is an internationally esteemed expert in the study of historical cultural landscapes and the author of a large number of articles and book chapters on the various aspects of the landscape history of the Netherlands and in Europe, as well as on the relationship between the landscape heritage and planning issues.
He is editor-in-chief of the Journal for European Landscapes.

Ewa Skowronek, 2021 February 22:

„Examples of the Holler colonies, common in many European countries, also occur in Poland. Their beginnings date back to the first half of the 16th Century when, owing to religious persecutions, the Dutch – the Mennonites settled initially in the Northern part of the country – in Ducal and Royal Prussia, and then their settlements expanded along the Vistula and its tributaries, spreading to Wielkopolska, Kujawy and Mazovia. However, it should be added that Dutch colonies were scattered all over the country. They were also present in the East – e.g. in the Lublin region, in the Bug River valley.
Holler colonies were established in lowlands and wetlands. Such environment made for difficult and even adverse living conditions, farming and general security. These colonies were distinguished by legal and organizational details, such as the right to the perpetual usufruct of land, personal freedom and self-government. Due to persistent and arduous work, the discussed communities achieved high agricultural culture and considerable wealth. Thanks to their creativity, an agricultural landscape was created rich in engineering achievements, especially in drainage infrastructure facilities such as locks, pumping stations, windmills and anthropogenic landforms – ditches, canals, dikes, and dams.
Traces of such settlements (although preserved to varying degrees) are still visible today, both in the landscape (linear landscape structure and small parcelling), rural architecture, village layout, and in place names (Holendry, Olędry, Olendry, etc.).
All above reasons allow to conclude that the regions where traces of the Holler landscape have survived can be considered as an important element of common cultural heritage, being the consequence of Dutch water engineers’ large-scale knowledge transfer within Europe.”

Prof. Dr. habil Ewa Skowronek
is currently working at the Institute for Regional Geography and Tourism at Maria Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin (Poland).
Her research areas are geography, cultural landscapes and tourism. Her most recent publications are “Culinary heritage as an opportunity to make the tourist offer of the Lubelskie Voivodeship (Eastern Poland) more attractive” and “Understanding the tourist landscape. A comparative study of the perception of locals and visitors in selected travel destinations in Poland and Greece. “,2485,pl.html

Dr. Zdeněk Kučera, 2021 March 09:

„Cultural landscapes are created by people for people. They represent the effort to create hospitable living environment, mirror the current style of living of the society and are invested with symbolic meanings. They thus not only are productive environments which fulfil various functions, but also through their unique character contribute to feelings of identity and attachment to local places and communities. Although sometimes seemingly stabile, being based on the interaction between society and nature, landscapes do transform with driving forces coming from different geographical scales. Local cultural landscape represents the uniqueness of a particular area as well as is a part of wider web of relationships that contribute to its development. These characteristics are well represented in reclamation landscapes, which often need specialized knowledge for its creation. In the past much of the knowledge as regards land and water management has been shared across the European continent. In the case of reclamation landscapes this knowledge has dispersed especially from the Low Countries as its original source. The unique landscape of the Altes Land is thus valuable for its local character and history going back to the Medieval period as well as for representing long-term and sometimes neglected connections between European regions.”

Dr. Zdeněk Kučera
(1981) studied geography at Charles University, Faculty of Natural Sciences in Prague (Czech Republic).
He is the director of the Section for Historical Geography and Environmental History of the Czech Geographical Society.
His research focus is on topics of historical, cultural and regional geography, in particular historical heritage, transformation of landscapes and settlements, regional identity, as well as historical and cultural aspects of the development of border areas, mountain and rural regions.
He is an author in various scientific journals.

Csaba Centeri, 2021 March 03:

„The increasing human population, especially population density, created in medieval times, especially from the 12th Century onwards, a need for reclaiming new areas for living space and for producing food. This food production was started on the most suitable areas but after a while people needed some innovations as they ran out of easily formable land. In lowlands these less suitable areas were due to the excess water that did not allow as large areas and as long vegetation period as was needed for agriculture, especially for arable farming. This led to land reclamation from wetlands. The agricultural landscapes related to these reclaimed wetlands became more and more regulated that made a special cultural landscape, showing the huge efforts and struggle of the local people to gain more land suitable for agriculture. These efforts are visible from the numerous infrastructure, e.g. dykes, ditches, channels that was needed in order to achieve their goals. The preservation and maintenance of this landscape type is important as it shows the human’s will and capability of transforming/reclaiming natural areas into farmland. It is also important to preserve it as it can serve as an example that shows the results of an intensive human intervention into natural areas. This cultural landscape type can also help us understanding how far we can go with reclamation activities. Where is the limit of such interventions and what kind of new ways can or must be imagined or planned for fulfilling other needs in agriculture than “just” food production.
Therefore, these reclaimed landscapes are valuable examples that can help us to understand the historic background of these reclamations, the reasons why they were made and can help us understanding the recent perception of people towards them, and also, helping to find their role in our future. In this way, reclamation landscapes fulfil an important role as testimony and living heritage also for education needs.”

Ass. Prof PhD habil. Csaba Centeri
(1973) studied agricultural, environmental and landscape sciences at the Szent István University (SzIU) in Gödöllő (Hungary).
He holds a PhD in environmental sciences and is head of the Department for Nature Conservation and Landscape Management at the SzIU.
He is the coordinator of the Bachelor’s Program in Nature Conservation at the SZIU and editor of the TÁJÖKOLÓGIAILAPOK Journal of Landscape Ecology.