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The Cultural Significance of Relic Oak Savanna: A Cultural Ecosystem Services Approach

Authors: David Robertson*, SUNY Geneseo
Topics: Biogeography, Cultural Geography, Natural Resources
Keywords: Oak savanna, cultural ecosystem services, restoration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Oak savannas are receiving increasing attention in ecology, forestry and environmental sciences, and restoration of these rare ecosystems is an emerging land management and public concern. Little attention, however, has yet been paid to the cultural significance of these complex social-ecological systems and their unique landscapes. Using a cultural ecosystem services (CES) framework, this paper outlines the cultural value of relic oak savanna woodlands and their characteristic open-grown oak trees. Based on a developing research project, this paper reviews the experiential qualities of a former oak savanna located in the Genesee Valley of Western New York. This includes recreational, aesthetic, educational, symbolic, and heritage cultural ecosystem services ascribed to the landscape by both Native American and local stakeholder communities. This study provides preliminary insight into the diverse cultural values that relic oak savannas hold for groups occupying these distinctive and scarce landscapes past and present.

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