Revealing the Rainforest - discovering the dynamic interchange between landscape and culture
Davies, Renee; Butler, Rachel; Ting, Fiona; Steiner, Vanya
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Citation:Davies, R. B., Butler, R., Ting , F., and Steiner, V. (2014). Revealing the Rainforest - discovering the dynamic interchange between landscape and culture. X-Section Journal, 4: Exchange. 34-44.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2997
Landscape architecture embodies the symbiotic relationship between society and environment and this human-nature interaction is manifest at its most profound within those places that are referred to as cultural landscapes. Within the Asia-pacific region there is considerable diversity in the environment and culture. The region has one of the highest proportions of Indigenous peoples within national populations and the highest proportion of people living within traditional governance systems in any region of the world. Together these qualities underpin the uniqueness of cultural landscapes in the Asia-pacific region. The challenge of ensuring an appreciation and respect for these local cultural landscapes and adhering to professional ethics when working off-country within an increasingly globalised landscape is an ongoing area of concern in the practice of landscape architecture and one that is therefore particularly relevant to landscape architecture education. This paper considers the importance of enabling an exchange between students of landscape architecture and non-western world views set amidst a different culture and within an unfamiliar environment. The case study outlines student experiences of the cultural landscape of the Penan within the Sarawak rainforest of Malaysia. Although often viewed as wilderness, the rainforest is a place that illustrates the human-nature interaction at its most intimate and the patterns in the landscape that were and are being created as a consequence of this interaction. In talking with local people on their journey, students learned how stories enable the knowledge of the past and present to guide and inform their understanding of the wider set of cultural meanings and values the Penan have with their environment and its implications for sustainable tourism and development within Sarawak and the appropriate management of change in such a sensitive and valuable cultural landscape.