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Lines in Country

We continue to work on our film about Western Australia that covers 2 years of work there.  It seems like a simple place – lot of open space (the size of California) and only 45,000 residents (2nd least inhabited place outside of Antarctica).  So bunch of kangaroos, crocs, a few people and big cattle ranches.  So what is the big deal?

Well it is hard to communicate to Americans what a cultural landscape is. But that is what the Kimberley is.  Let’s start with a Wiki definition:

cultural landscape, as defined by the World Heritage Committee, is the “cultural properties [that] represent the combined works of nature and of man.”[2]

The World Heritage Committee identifies three categories of cultural landscape, ranging from (i) those landscapes most deliberately ‘shaped’ by people, through (ii) full range of ‘combined’ works, to (iii) those least evidently ‘shaped’ by people (yet highly valued). The three categories extracted from the Committee’s Operational Guidelines, are as follows:[3]

  1. “a landscape designed and created intentionally by man”
  2. an “organically evolved landscape” which may be a “relict (or fossil) landscape” or a “continuing landscape”
  3. an “associative cultural landscape” which may be valued because of the “religious, artistic or cultural associations of the natural element”

There is no wilderness in Australia. It like America once was, has always been inhabited and therefore can not be a wilderness according to the 1964 Wilderness Act signed by President Johnson.  “we” well not me define it again from Wiki:

The Wilderness Act is well known for its succinct and poetic definition of wilderness:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

When Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964, it created the National Wilderness Preservation System. The initial statutory wilderness areas, designated in the Act, comprised 9.1 million acres (37,000 km²) of national forest wilderness areas in the United States of America previously protected by administrative orders. The current amount of areas designated by the NWPS as wilderness totals 757 areas encompassing 109.5 million acres of federally owned land in 44 states and Puerto Rico (5% of the land in the United States).

 

I know this may see overly complicated but bear with us.  There is a long story about cultural landscapes in Australia as well as America. I would say my adopted home state of Wyoming is all cultural landscape as much as some enviros would like to define it otherwise.   Cultural landscapes are for everyone . It is the most democratic form of land management possible.  The mining companies do not control them with their digging. the greenies do not control them with their wilderness designations.  They belong to all of us to share and explore.  Stay tuned.

King George Falls on the Timor Sea, Western Australia

 

 

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