Ecology, economy, and upland landscapes: Socio-ecological dynamics in the Alps during the transition to modernity

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Human interaction with mountain environments is generally perceived as an adaptation of local communities to the constraining ecological and morphological characteristics of their territory, a preconception challenged by many historians and ecologists yet still largely accepted for seasonally exploited uplands. Traditional upland seasonal practices are considered timeless and immutable as the mountain landscapes shaped by such practices. We combine the methodologies of landscape archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, and historical ecology in order to examine the validity of this assumption. Our analysis of two case studies from the French and Italian Alps between the eighteenth and the twenty-first century shows that socioeconomic dynamics affect the resilience of local montane ecosystems and the historical character of upland landscapes, and reveals that historical social, economic, and ecological driving forces contributed to upland landscape change, so that the sustainability of ‘traditional’ mountain land-use should not be presumed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Ecology
Early online date28 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2020


  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • european alps
  • historical ecology
  • Uplands
  • Pastoralism
  • France
  • Italy

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