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date: 18 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Environmental conservation has long been orientated towards reconstructing or conserving ‘naturalness’. The historical sciences in combination with new ecological thinking have taught us that landscapes are constantly in flux. We now know that many landscapes that previously were regarded as natural in fact have been shaped and reshaped by people over millennia, and that human disturbance of different kinds may enhance landscape heterogeneity and biodiversity. This chapter presents cases from different parts of Africa that demonstrate how archaeology, palaeoecology, and historical analysis have contributed to reform the traditional outlook of environmental conservation and revise misconstrued landscape histories. It shows that historical studies can offer insights that contribute a better understanding of species conservation, ecosystem function, prediction of ecosystem behaviour, and sound management of cultural landscapes. The long-term historical continuities in the landscape raise awareness of the importance of traditional practices and their benefits for environmental conservation.

Keywords: environment, environmental history, palaeoecology, conservation, Africa

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