The usual perception of historic estates is that they are conservative and static. Yet a select few historic estates have now become leading innovators as they have been in the past. Common traits include being entrepreneurs as well as collaborators who challenge the status quo. In doing so, they are unlocking new ways of dealing with heritage and nature conservation, sustainable food production, social inclusiveness, sustainable tourism, climate change and renewable energy.
Now, new research by Steven Heyde and Sylvie Van Damme shows that these are small, larger or sometimes even vast dynamic cultural landscapes, with a lot of potential for owners, society and research. Viewed in this way, they are breeding grounds for an integrated, holistic approach across multiple functions, sectors and stakeholders. The conclusions are published in the book ‘The future of estate landscapes in Europe’ by Publisher Blauwdruk.
Interactions with private and public owners, civil society organizations and policymakers through workshops and living labs brought up numerous innovative themes such as water management and food production. The expertise was also connected to the bachelors in Landscape and Garden Architecture and Landscape Development of our Ghent University of Applied Sciences and Arts, where students worked on the theme of historic estates from different scales – from garden to region. The confrontation of their practice and refreshing views of the research results was a textbook example of the nexus between research and education that is central to our University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
The book ‘The future of estate landscapes in Europe’ bundles this expertise into four main themes: management, policy measures, design and the innovative perspective of food forests. Each of the themes is introduced by an article that puts the general trends, principles and challenges into context. For each theme, various historic estates in the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium are reason to show the diversity of approaches and possibilities and limitations with regard to the theme in question. The book is illustrated with informative maps and appealing photos.