Profound transformations have occurred in our everyday environments during the twentieth century. This book addresses these transformations through a series of case studies of changes in landscape and lifeways during the 1950-1990 period in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. The book's central concern is sustainability - the challenge of orchestrating the competing goals of economic growth, ecological integrity and social vitality. Regional case studies - spanning coal-based power plants in Saarland, farms and bogs in Slieveardagh, traditional fields of Waterland and ultra-modern agribusiness on Flevoland polder, landed estates and farms in Sksne - all illustrate the interconnections of landscape transformations, tensions of place-based and sector-based lifeways, and highly variable horizons of discretionary reach. Beyond regional differences however, all European societies today face common challenges: Europe's commitment to being the world's largest trading bloc while at the same time proclaiming biodiversity and regional distinctiveness; Europe's spatially and temporally-contained regimes of democratic authority vis-a-vis the footloose geographies of multi-national enterprise and the ecological consequences of their operations.
Sustainable Landscapes and Lifeways offers valuable insights for educators at all levels. It invites cross-disciplinary enquiry into vital issues of interest throughout Europe. It also provides a model of analytical enquiry which could be implemented by people at grass-roots level to enable self-confident 'bottom-up' initiatives for more sustainable ways of life.
Anne Buttimer is Professor and Head of the Department of Geography, University College, Dublin.