Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

January 2008


A thesis in Historic Preservation Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree of Master of Science in Historic Preservation 2008.
Advisor: Randall F. Mason


Working agricultural landscapes are complex, difficult resources to preserve. This thesis examines and critiques traditional approaches to land conservation and presents an alternative model for their preservation. Traditional land conservation approaches – such as agricultural zoning and conservation easements – are necessary for success, but are not sufficient because they largely fail to capture and preserve culture. Successful working landscape preservation will capture the economic, natural, cultural, historic and scenic values of these places, rather than traditional modes of preservation which simply seek to prevent change. Integrated preservation models will embrace multiple values, enlist more stakeholders in the process, and contribute to broader goals of sustainability.

While land conservation and historic preservation may share the subject of working landscapes, they come to define "preservation" in somewhat telling, different ways. Land conservation's shortcoming is its narrow definition of preservation and its focus on technical solutions. Strict land conservation defines preservation success as preventing development or managing growth, and is often driven by concerns about ecological or economic sustainability, but not social sustainability. In contrast, cultural landscape preservation defines success in broader terms that explicitly seek to capture more layers of meaning, cultural values, and the physical imprint of human history on the land. These aspects of working landscapes are typically neglected by stricter, traditional definitions of preservation success. The conservation of working landscapes does not, however, have to be an either/or. Instead land conservation tools can be implemented in combination with cultural landscape management to yield a more comprehensive and potentially lasting approach to the preservation of working agricultural landscapes. This thesis investigates how traditional approaches to agricultural land preservation can expand their narrow focus to include broader preservation principles related to culture.



Date Posted: 14 July 2008