Imaginary Landscapes-or is the Truth out there? Dynamics in Landscape Representations in Relation to ‘Real’ Landscapes on Saaremaa Island, Estonia

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Imaginary Landscapes-or is the Truth out there? Dynamics in Landscape Representations in Relation to ‘Real’ Landscapes on Saaremaa Island, Estonia

The emergence of a particular future landscape, among the numerous potential landscapes, depends on policy options, on prevailing attitudes in society, and on cultural values. This is particularly the case for the countries that have recently joined the European Union-specifically the implementation of new policies has changed the function of the rural countryside significantly. In an empirical illustrative case we discuss the change in values on landscape and the conflicting attitudes to landscape in the society on Saaremaa Island (Estonia) in the 20th century. As a background explanation we present the dynamics of the physical landscape and explore the reasons for changes. We then move on to multiple perspectives of how the landscape has been represented in the past as well as today and perceived by different interest groups. Based on that, we finally argue that landscape representations differ from the physical landscape and discuss whether contemporary landscape policy decisions support the actual situation or rather the historical visual imagery.

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