Cultural landscape of abandoned areas in the context of landscape memory concept (Sudety Mountains case study, SW Poland)

Authors and Affiliations: 

Agnieszka Latocha 1, Kamila Reczyńska 2, Krzysztof Świerkosz 3, Tomasz Gradowski 4

1 Institute of Geography and Regional Development, Faculty of Earth Sciences and Environmental Management, University of Wroclaw, Pl. Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław, e-mail:
2 Department of Botany, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Wrocław, ul. Kanonia 6/8, 50-328 Wrocław, e-mail:
3 Museum of Natural History, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Wrocław, Sienkiewicza 21 PL-50-335;
4 Environmental Consultant, 870 Pinebrook Pl. Coquitlam, BC, V3C 4B9, Canada;

Corresponding author: 
Agnieszka Latocha

Using the concept of landscape memory (Antrop 2005, Balej et al. 2010, Brierley 2010) the research examines the cultural landscape of abandoned areas, with focus on the relationship between persistence of anthropogenic landforms and their botanical composition several decades after study area depopulation. The remains of anthropogenic structures were mapped and botanical surveys were conducted within the former village of Karpno, which represents socio-economic and ecological processes typical for many border areas in Central Europe after the World War II (Ciok 1995). Historical maps, photographs, and census data were used to analyze population and land use changes. Botanical data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate methods.
Evidence of anthropogenic landscape memory still persists in local surficial morphology and ecosystem composition several decades after area abandonment, although visible landscape features in a large scale seem to be a perfectly homogeneous The trajectory of secondary succession is influenced by the history of land use: former human activities continue to affect local soil properties, which results in a mosaic of diverse habitat conditions within an area currently overgrown by forest. Plant species composition of secondary ecosystems remains different from their anthropogenic precursors and natural communities. The most ecologically distinct sites in the study area are former homesteads, which, due to soil eutrophication and calcium enrichment, support the most diverse vegetation. Persistent soil eutrophication slows down competitive exclusion of shade intolerant species in sites overgrown by forest canopy.
The results of the research suggest that physical and ecological aspects of landscape memory are strongly interlinked and cannot be interpreted separately. From this point of view landscape memory cannot be lost - it can be at most transformed or hidden – thus, it should be considered as a vital factor shaping the cultural landscapes in abandoned areas.


Antrop M (2005) Why landscapes of the past are important for the future? Landscape and Urban Planning 70(1–2):21–34.
Balej M, Raška P, Andĕl J, Chvátalová A (2010) Memory of a landscape – a constituent of regional identity and planning? In: Anděl J, Bičík I, Dostál P et al. (eds.) Landscape Modelling. Geographical Space, Transformation and Future Scenarios. Springer Netherlands, pp 107-121.
Brierley GJ (2010) Landscape memory: the imprint of the past on contemporary landscape forms and processes. Area 42.1:76–85.
Ciok S (1995) Zmiany ludnościowe i osadnicze w Sudetach. Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis, Prace Inst. Geogr. Ser. B 13:51–64.

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