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Improving Landscapes, Improving Lives? Social Aspects of Land Reclamation 
Paula Schiefer (German Maritime Museum)
Tara Joly (University of Northern British Columbia)
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Thursday 28 October, 15:00-16:30

Short Abstract:

The term "land reclamation" covers various approaches to landscape modification which are said to improve landscapes and make them more suitable for a certain need. This panel reflects on changing human values in land by analysing different land reclamation projects and their social aspects.

Long Abstract

The term "land reclamation" encapsulates a myriad of approaches to landscape modification. Distinct from restoration's attempt to recreate past ecosystems, reclamation's methods of recreating land or ecosystems disturbed by human and/or natural processes aim to engineer and even "improve" current conditions and relationships between people and the land. Examples of reclamation include the reclamation of land from the sea, riverbeds, or lakes and the change of coastal areas, the draining of marshlands for agricultural purposes, or, usually in a North American context, the recreating of disturbed ecosystems in a post-mining landscape. Land reclamation can be used to counteract erosion and as a coastal defence, to create more land suitable for infrastructural projects like airports and harbours, or to build artificial islands for luxurious hotels. Farmers reclaim land to harvest more crops, and environmental scientists use post-mining landscapes to establish new or lost ecological assemblages.

With shifting definitions of "productive" land - political, economic, ecological, or somewhere in-between - reclamation practices often reflect changing human values in the environment and local landscapes. This panel aims to highlight social aspects of land reclamation and invites papers from all research areas. We understand the diverse social characteristics of land reclamation projects as a possibility to connect conservation with questions of Indigenous sovereignty and inequality, and ask for whom landscapes are reclaimed. Together we analyse the changing values in land- and seascapes held by locals, oil companies, bureaucrats, scientists, and/or Indigenous communities.

Accepted papers:

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