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World Heritage Cultural Landscapes: An Old or a New Concept for China?

Abstract

The term ‘cultural landscape’ has many different meanings for different people throughout the world. It has been widely circulated since the international recognition of cultural landscapes extended to World Heritage prominence in 1992 with three categories of cultural landscapes of outstanding universal value defined as the ‘combined works of nature and of man’. However, the application of World Heritage Cultural Landscapes (WHCLs) encountered difficulties in China. This paper reviews the history of nature-related World Heritage conservation in the country, examines the cross-cultural confusion of World Heritage practice from Chinese traditional cultural perspective of culture and nature relationship to address to the international bewilderment about China’s two-decade absence from WHCLs. The paper also reviews the efforts taken by China to dispel the conceptual confusion, what has been inspired by and contributed to the WHCLs in the recent years. Finally, the paper examines what China and WHCLs can mutually benefit from each other based on the common concerns of sustainable development and harmonious human-nature relationship in the future.

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Correspondence to Feng Han.

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Supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0503308).

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Han, F. World Heritage Cultural Landscapes: An Old or a New Concept for China?. Built Heritage 2, 68–84 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03545711

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Keywords

  • World Heritage
  • cultural landscape
  • China
  • Historic Urban Landscape
  • rural landscape