Placements 2016 - Eirini Saratsi

Investigating & linking tangible and intangible forms of heritage of urban green spaces to better embed them in the policy and practice of valuing nature

The overall aim of this placement was to advance knowledge of how we can better embed the tangible and intangible heritage values of urban green spaces held by individuals, communities and the society, within valuing nature research (and relatedly the wider ecosystem approach).

Urban green spaces provide spaces for the expression of cultural and personal diversity. The social and cultural values assigned to these spaces reflect attitudes towards nature and people’s desire for contact with it. Besides, recent research has shown that people hold strong heritage associations with urban green spaces (Fish & Saratsi, 2015). Yet, these values are not always directly reflected in current policy and practice agendas of valuing nature and they often disappear under the general category of ‘cultural services’. However, heritage values assigned to green spaces, like any other kind of cultural values, are shaped by the perceptions and experiences of individuals, as well as wider inherited cultural/historical perspectives and identities and contribute to people’s happiness and wellbeing. It is also true, that these values are not static; they vary between societies and individuals and change over time. This cultural heritage also includes closely connected tangible and intangible values which should not be seen in isolation. Therefore alongside any research on the economic value of tangible heritage and its ecological and regulatory roles it is imperative to extend our understanding of the intrinsic values that draw individuals and societies towards these spaces. This placement will help to further work in this area and in doing so will promote the use of heritage values in relevant government policies, especially with regard to the ongoing development of work on natural capital.

The placement was hosted by Historic England, the government's expert advisory service on England's historic environment, and was supervised by Dr Vince Holyoak, Head of National Rural & Environmental Advice Government Advice. Dr Holyoak is Historic England’s lead liaison with Defra and its agencies (including Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission). He is currently working with Natural England and the National Trust on developing a shared vision on urban and rural landscapes that encompasses plural values, an area of policy to which research carried out under this placement can also directly contribute. In addition, in Historic England Dr Saratsi closely collaborated with Jenifer White, National Landscape Adviser, and Dr Hannah Fluck, Historic Environment Intelligence Officer, whilst in the home institution she benefited from additional supervision by Ian Bride, Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Management, expert in conservation and the creative arts.

Placement information: 

Report: LWEC Taking account of heritage values of urban parks and gardens

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Starting placement presentation introducing placement ideas

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