Skip to main content Accessibility help

Combining facilitated dialogue and spatial data analysis to compile landscape history



Successful reconstruction or restoration of formerly cleared landscapes depends on land use history and its legacies. Programmes developed without consideration of these legacies may fail to be effective and lack credibility. However, compiling landscape histories is not simple; our participatory workshops with long-term local residents combined spatial data on landscape change with facilitated conversations to compile a history of landscape change. Timing and extent of key environmental and socioeconomic drivers of woody vegetation cover change since European settlement were established. Some drivers of clearing were relatively well-known, such as drought, or clearing for surface mining and pastoralism. However, others, including important interactions like prolonged drought intersecting with declining wool prices, were less known. These workshops verified provisional data, tested focus and methods, and identified critical time periods for further investigation. The workshops were a powerful transdisciplinary research tool that enhanced the understanding of researchers and participants beyond expectations. Other researchers should consider the general approach when assembling landscape history as a basis for documenting the degree and causes of change.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence: Dr David Duncan e-mail:


Hide All
Alessa, L., Kliskey, A. & Brown, G. (2007) Social-ecological hotspots mapping: a spatial approach for identifying coupled social-ecological space. Landscape and Urban Planning 85: 2739.
ANAO (2004) The Administration of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. Canberra, Australia: Australian National Audit Office.
ANAO (2008) Regional Delivery Model for the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. ANAO Audit Report No. 21 2007–08. Canberra, Australia: Australian National Audit Office.
Aslin, H.J. & Brown, V.A. (2004) Towards Whole of Community Engagement: a Practical Toolkit. Canberra, Australia: Murray-Darling Basin Commission.
Balée, W. (2006) The research program of historical ecology. Annual Review of Anthropology 35: 7598.
Ballard, H.L., Fernandez-Gimenez, M.E. & Sturtevant, V.E. (2008) Integration of local ecological knowledge and conventional science: a study of seven community-based forestry organizations in the USA. Ecology and Society 13: 3759.
Barr, N., Wilkinson, R. & Karunaratne, K. (2005) Understanding Rural Victoria. Melbourne, Australia: Department of Primary Industries.
Calvo-Iglesias, M.S., Crecente-Maseda, R. & Fra-Paleo, U. (2006) Exploring farmer's knowledge as a source of information on past and present cultural landscapes: a case study from NW Spain. Landscape and Urban Planning 78: 334343.
Campbell, A. & Siepen, G. (1994) Landcare: Communities Shaping the Land and the Future. St Leonards, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin Pty. Ltd.
Caniambo-Gowangardie-Tamleugh History Committee (1985) Caniambo Gowangardie Tamleugh: The History and Development of 3 Neighbouring Districts in North Eastern Victoria. Shepparton, Australia: Caniambo-Gowangardie-Tamleugh History Committee.
Chalmers, N. & Fabricius, C. (2007) Expert and generalist local knowledge about land-cover change on South Africa's Wild Coast: can local ecological knowledge add value to science? Ecology and Society 12: 1025.
Chambers, R. (1983) Rural Development: Putting the Last First. London, UK: Longman.
Chambers, R. (1997) Whose Reality Counts? Putting the First Last. London, UK: Intermediate Technology Publications.
Clode, D. (2006) As if for a Thousand Years: A History of Victoria's Land Conservation and Environment Conservation Councils. Melbourne, Australia: Environment Conservation Council.
Cocks, P.S. (1992) Plant attributes leading to persistence in grazed annual medics (Medicago spp.) growing in rotation with wheat. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 43: 15591570.
Crosthwaite, J., Malcolm, B., Moll, J. & Dorrough, J. (2008) Future investment in landscape change in southern Australia. Landscape Research 33: 225239.
Curtis, A., Byron, I. & MacKay, J. (2005) Integrating socio-economic and biophysical data to underpin collaborative watershed management. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 41: 549563.
Dennis, R.A., Mayer, J., Applegate, G., Chokkalingam, U., Colfer, C.J.P., Kurniawan, I., Lachowski, H., Maus, P., Permana, R.P. & Ruchiat, Y. (2005) Fire, people and pixels: linking social science and remote sensing to understand underlying causes and impacts of fires in Indonesia. Human Ecology 33: 465504.
Dorrough, J., Vesk, P.A. & Moll, J. (2008) Integrating ecological uncertainty and farm-scale economics when planning restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 288295.
DSE (2008) Native Vegetation Net Gain Accounting First Approxi-mation Report. East Melbourne, Australia: State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Duncan, D.H. & Wintle, B.A. (2008) Towards adaptive management of native vegetation in regional landscapes. In: Landscape Analysis and Visualisation. Spatial Models for Natural Resource Management and Planning, ed. Pettit, C., Cartwright, W., Bishop, I., Lowell, K., Pullar, D. & Duncan, D., pp. 159182. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag GmbH.
Fortmann, L. & Ballard, H. (2009) Sciences, knowledges, and the practice of forestry. European Journal of Forest Research doi:10.1007/s10342-009-0334-y.
Foster, D., Swanson, F., Aber, J., Burke, I., Brokaw, N., Tilman, D. & Knapp, A. (2003) The importance of land-use legacies to ecology and conservation. BioScience 53: 7788.
Fraser, E.D.G., Dougill, A.J., Mabee, W.E., Reed, M. & McAlpine, P. (2006) Bottom up and top down: analysis of participatory processes for sustainability indicator identification as a pathway to community empowerment and sustainable environmental management. Journal of Environmental Management 78: 114127.
Knapp, C.N. & Fernandez-Giminez, M. (2008) Knowing the land: a review of local knowledge revealed in ranch memoirs. Rangeland Ecology and Management 61: 148155.
Knapp, C.N. & Fernandez-Giminez, M. (2009) Understanding change: integrating rancher knowledge into state-and-transition models. Rangeland Ecology and Management 65: 510521.
Lunt, I.D. & Spooner, P.G. (2005) Using historical ecology to understand patterns of biodiversity in fragmented agricultural landscapes. Journal of Biogeography 32: 18591876.
MA (2003) Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: A Framework for Assessment. Washington, DC, USA: Island Press.
McDonald, D., Bammer, G. & Deane, P. (2009) Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods. Canberra, Australia: ANU e-Press.
McIntyre, S. & Hobbs, R. (1999) A framework for conceptualizing human effects on landscapes and its relevance to management and research models. Conservation Biology 13: 12821292.
Mendham, E. & Curtis, A. (2010) Taking over the reins: trends and impacts of changes in rural property ownership. Society and Natural Resources 23: 653668.
Merritt, W.S., Duncan, D.H., Kyle, G. & Race, D. (2009) Using local knowledge to identify drivers of historic native vegetation change. In: Interfacing Modelling and Simulation with Mathematical and Computational Sciences. Proceedings of the 18th World IMACS Congress and MODSIM09 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, 13–17 July 2009, ed. Anderssen, R.S., Braddock, R.D. & Newham, L.T.H., pp. 23922398. Cairns, Australia: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand and International Association for Mathematics and Computers in Simulation.
NLWRA (2001) Landscape Health in Australia: A Rapid Assessment of the Relative Condition of Australia's Bioregions and Subregions. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Environment Australia & National Land and Water Resources Audit.
Palmer, C.T. & Wadley, R.L. (2007) Local environmental knowledge, talk, and skepticism: using ‘LES’ to distinguish ‘LEK’ from ‘LET’ in Newfoundland. Human Ecology 35: 749760.
Pilgrim, S.E., Cullen, L.C., Smith, D.J. & Pretty, J. (2008) Ecological knowledge is lost in wealthier communities and countries. Environmental Science and Technology 42: 10041009.
Pohl, C. (2005) Transdisciplinary collaboration in environmental research. Futures 37: 11591178.
Race, D., Duncan, D.H., Kyle, G. & Merritt, W. (2009 a) Landscape history and vegetation change in the Chiltern–Springhurst Region of Victoria [www document]. URL
Race, D., Duncan, D.H., Kyle, G. & Merritt, W. (2009 b) Landscape history and vegetation change in the Muckleford Region of Victoria [www document]. URL
Race, D., Duncan, D.H., Kyle, G. & Merritt, W. (2009 c) Landscape history and vegetation change in the Violet Town–Longwood Region of Victoria [www document]. URL
Rhemtulla, J.M., Mladenoff, D.J. & Clayton, M.K. (2009) Legacies of historical land use on regional forest composition and structure in Wisconsin, USA (mid-1800s–1930s–2000s). Ecological Applications 19: 10611078.
Scoones, I. (1999) New ecology and the social sciences: what prospects for a fruitful engagement? Annual Review of Anthropology 28: 479507.
Sillitoe, P. (1998) The development of indigenous knowledge. Current Anthropology 39: 223252.
Valtinat, K., Bruun, H.H. & Brunet, J. (2008) Restoration of oak forest: effects of former arable land use on soil chemistry and herb layer vegetation. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 23: 513521.
Vesk, P.A. & Mac Nally, R. (2006) The clock is ticking: revegetation and habitat for birds and arboreal mammals in rural landscapes of southern Australia. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 112: 356366.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Combining facilitated dialogue and spatial data analysis to compile landscape history



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.