We live in an age of unprecedented environmental change: global, interconnected and universal. Yet though our lives are inextricably connected to global processes, and increasingly mobile, we still live in particular places. Our perceptions of change, and what kind of change might be for good or ill, are shaped by the interaction of localised experience and the wider forces of transformation.
Local Places, Global Processes examines how these relationships have been shaped in Britain over time in three ways. First, through essays addressing influential ways of understanding and debating questions of ‘the state of nature’. These are complemented by case studies on conservation, landscape change and management, and how perceptions of environmental change have emerged or been discarded over time.
Chapters also draw on a series of site-based workshops that brought together historians, landscape managers and artists to discuss and reflect on particular sites: Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, owned by the National Trust and the first British nature reserve; the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Somerset, England’s first AONB and a landscape enriched by Romantic association; and the landscape of Kielder Water and Forest, a land of superlatives in Northumberland in north-eastern England – the largest planted forest and artificial lake in northern Europe.
The multi-disciplinary approach draws together the exchanges, artworks and writing assembled at these workshops and afterwards. This opens up how being in a place, and engaging with ideas attached to it, shape perceptions of the environment. It provides resources with which landscape managers can think about their tasks and engage various publics in discussion about future environments in light of these histories of place. Rather than a history of these three places, this is history written from them.
The book is the culmination of two AHRC-funded projects: http://www.environmentalhistories.net/
David Moon is an Anniversary Professor in the Department of History.
Peter Coates is Professor of American and Environmental History at The University of Bristol.
Paul Warde is Lecturer in Environmental History at Pembroke College, Cambridge
The book is available to purchase from Oxbow books.