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Rural Environmental Geography

There have been significant changes in the British countryside since World War II.
These are linked particularly to the modernisation and intensification of farming
(the major rural land use), growing recreation and diversification pressures
(tourism now makes a greater contribution to the national economy than farming),
counter-urbanisation (particularly since the 1970s) and rising environmental
concerns (from the 1960s especially). The impacts of agricultural change are
particularly significant. In some areas there have been major landscape losses as
hedgerows and buildings have been removed, land drained and features such as
marshlands, moorland and heathland reclaimed and converted to other uses. In
order to safeguard the countryside against further extensive damage the
government and other bodies have been working to integrate agricultural and
conservation objectives.
The aim of this part of the module is to allow you to look at the way in which the
countryside has changed since 1945, the main factors responsible for these
changes and the ways in which national policies may shape the future countryside.
To do this you will need to consider the broad landscape types that occur in Great
Britain and their major ecological and cultural characteristics.
Research preparation and assessment
Essay title: Using a British landscape feature or type from the list
supplied, critically evaluate how and why it has changed since 1945, its
future prospects and the significance for countryside conservation.
To prepare for your essay you will need to select and research a specific landscape
feature or type found in Britain. These include the following:
‘Natural’ Woodlands’
You should consider the following aspects when researching and writing your
essay. These points will also form the basis for small group discussions in the
classes, as indicated below:
(1) What are the key characteristics of your chosen feature? What are its
conservation values? Do different types exist? Where is it found?
Please collect relevant images of your feature. [Discussion A]
(2) What are the changes that have occurred to your feature since 1945?
What are the significance of these changes for conservation? How has
the spatial distribution of your feature changed? Please collect
relevant maps and statistics. [Discussion B]
(3) What are the factors which have been responsible for these changes
to your feature? Please ensure you consider the relevant policy and
social as well as technical/physical process influences.
[Discussion C]
(4) How is your feature likely to change in the future? Please provide
justification for your suggestions. [Discussion D]