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"Natural" heritage, between culture and resource

Stéphane Héritier and Sylvie Guichard-Anguis

A natural heritage, really?

A monumental nature!
"Natural" heritage: protection between culture and resources

1 The notion of "natural heritage" has been diffused for only a few decades, whereas the emergence
of the term "heritage" gradually affirmed from the 18th century (Héritier, 2007). This notion has
been strongly invested by the humanities and social sciences thanks to the work of historians
(notably: Choay, 1992, Poulot, 1998 and 2006), busy as they were to inventory the works of human
activity and to analyze the meaning. The heritage suggests operations of selection of objects or sites
(selection made by the times, determining what resisted the destruction, or voluntary, administrative
selection intended to draw attention to an object or a site because of its representative character) that
serve to testify, to transmit or to say something in the present - indeed in the present. Heritage thus
has two meanings: one linked to what has disappeared, the other carried by what must survive ...

2 The significance of the modern interest in heritage raises the question of the anxiety of what
would disappear. In his book titled The Broken Heritage, Mr. Rautenberg writes that
"reconstructions of the past known in various terms, in various forms. are social constructions, even
political, of this feeling of loss, of incompleteness in the face of the irreversibility of time "(2003,
p.): it seems to us that it is partly the same with the" nature "before the displayed irreversibility of
the deterioration of the environment - the two terms not being synonymous. Consequently, the
anxiety of the disappearance of civilizations responds in a more or less confused way, that of the
disappearance of man on the earth. Why and how would he be threatened to disappear? The two
decades after the Second World War bring some arguments: for example, the growth of the world's
population, which worries the whole of the West as a result of P's book. The population bomb
announcing the catastrophic effects of population growth on the planet, to which the famines of the
1970s and 1980s provided a false illustration. R. Carson's book, published in 1962, announced a
silent Spring, if the use of pesticides continued to grow. In France, public television broadcast, in
the early 1970s, a series of programs under the title as distressing as the content of the episodes, La
France disfigured.

3 The diffusion of the concept of heritage and its institutional use almost always appears as a
response to the threat - anxiety (?) To use a psychoanalytic vocabulary - of disappearance:
disappearance of the markers of a certain form of organization social and religious (recall the
defense of the Deputy MP Sieyès at the time of the crisis of "vandalism" revolutionary) or property
fallen into abandonment as ruin before being identified by Merimee on the occasion of his tours in
France in the capacity of Inspector of Historic Monuments. No wonder, then, that heritage, which
has become a subject of society, endowed with intrinsic values and carrying values of use and
economic values, has also become a subject of study for geographers (Grahamet al., 2000; Gravari-
Barbas and Guichard-Anguis, 2003; Heir, 2006). if only because of the multiple uses and practices
that heritage sites arouse (mobility, tourism, trade, development, accommodation, etc.). The place
of this theme "natural heritage: between culture and resource" in this review is obviously not
insignificant. The coordinators of this issue wished to give the authors the freedom to position
themselves in relation to the somewhat enigmatic title of the call.

A natural heritage, really?

4 Jean-Claude Lefeuvre (1990) recalls that in France, the appearance of the term natural heritage in
an official document dates from 1967, in the "decree establishing the regional natural parks and
specifying that a territory can be classified in this category because of the quality of its natural and
cultural heritage. J.-C. Lefeuvre traces the history of this recent concept and the justification of its
quasi-regulatory implementation through a national accounting known as the "Natural Heritage
Accounts ..." which finally corresponds to a tool at the Department of Administration: Lefeuvre
quotes J. Navarin from a document of the Scientific Committee EGPN (Ecology and Management
of Natural Heritage) of 1980, the implications of which appear by themselves:

"... As improper as it is strictly scientific, the concept of natural heritage corresponds to a coherent
division of administrative powers" (cited by Lefeuvre, 1990, pp. 50-51).

5 Moreover, logically, the epithet "natural" is used to describe a heritage that is not cultural, which
implies understanding the value of the qualifier. We will not repeat in this short presentation the
questions raised by the use of the notion of "nature" - and more largely from the environment -
extensively analyzed in the work of geographers (Berque, 1986, Bertrand, 1991: Arnould and Gion,
2005, Arnould and Simon, 2007, Pigeon, 2007) or by philosophers (Larrère, 1997) to concentrate
on the expression "natural" heritage (without quotation marks in the call). It may appear
questionable mainly because the use of the adjective epithet - grammatically. it serves to qualify the
noun - present a certain contradiction in the syntagma, because of the ontological distinction
between the two terms which compose it. Heritage belongs to the register of history, now
condensed in monuments or places whose value is determined by their function as a temporal
marker and which sometimes become an allegory of the whole nation; nature, or rather, naturalness
belongs to the register of the spontaneous - rejecting all traces of human intervention - or to that of
the still longer time, when no human action was possible (geological heritage for example ...). In the
notion of "natural heritage", the epithet cannot fail to question and the texts presented in this issue
almost all this question. In the Heritage chronicles, J.-M. Leniaud (2001) declines his main themes
around qualifying epithets where heritage is alternately "written, monumental, cultural, naval or
furniture .... but no natural! This absence may have several explanations, all legitimate, but one of
them is undoubtedly linked to the problematic nature of the reference to "nature". If it is easy to
designate or even define a writing, a monument, a place of worship, a ship or an arsenal, or even a
piece of furniture and a building. The same is not true of the natural, even when "nature" is
conceived as a cultural production. The sociologist A. Micoud insists on this characteristic:

"It is less in terms of 'remarkable biotopes' [than the 'natural sites'] were [protected], but rather to
illustrate the geologic-geographical diversity of the beautiful country of France. The 'natural' sites
were of the nation, as were the railways, where one could see the photographic images. [...] Natural
or cultural? Very difficult to separate "(Micaud, 1995: 28).

6 Thus, the classical distinction between culture and nature loses its relevance inasmuch as it is now
generally accepted that nature, as its conceptualization and representation, is a cultural construct
(Descola, 2005). take different forms depending on the companies concerned. The Italian
anthropologist Francesco Fedele (2002) goes further by saying that "nature does not exist". He does
not dispute of course the material reality, physical, that which corresponds to the phusis dear to
Aristotle but the fact that it would exist without human intervention or even without the man - the
physical so allows one to never forget, following Aristotle, that nature is a complex, associating
physical, chemical, and so on. to representations and cultural constructions.

A monumental nature!
7 F. Walter (2004) recalls that the concept of Naturdenkmal, natural monument, would have been
forged by Alexander Humboldt from 1814. If the term is formalized at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, it was mainly broadcast through the speeches on landscape: B. Kalaora reports
that for Victor Hugo, a tree is "a building, a forest is a city among all, the forest of Fontainebleau is
a monument" (quoted by Fromagneau, 1995). In the United States, Yosemite Park (protected by the
State of California in 1864 and declared a national park in 1890) was assimilated to a kind of
"Mona Lisa of Nature" (F. Tilden cited by J. Fromageau, 1995). ). Everywhere, associations such as
the Touring Club or the Alpine clubs took part in this movement. The laws of the European
countries have literally institutionalized this notion of "natural monument":National League for the
protection of natural monuments en 1913 tandis qu'en 1904 l'Angleterre développa is a National
Trust for Historic Interest (Walter, 2004).

8To a certain extent, heritage is a modern concept that has given rise to a real "cult of monuments",
to use the expression of Alois Riegl (1903), whose variety goes beyond the objects built by past
societies. The notion of "monument", which has long been used to designate historic sites, also
functions around the mobilization (or immobilization) of memory in the context of the construction
of memory. Following Riegl (1903) and Choay (1992), it should be remembered that heritage also
exists to provide a reminding function (of an event or a character for example) and that this function
of remembrance is generally materialized. by the existence or construction of a monument. The use
of the term "monument" to designate certain places or sites that were defined according to their
"picturesque" or "natural" character clearly shows their anthropological anchorage but also the role
they now play in understanding societies: a very difficult situation. clearly illustrated by UNESCO's
ranking criteria. The international institution has so far ranked 162 natural sites and 24 mixed
cultural and natural sites on the list of the World Heritage list out of the 830 properties inscribed.

"Natural" heritage: protection between culture and resources

9The designation of elements belonging to the natural heritage poses the formidable question of the
protection of goods which, by their very nature, are defined by a permanent evolution. Innumerable
factors tend to constantly modify these elements, be it the movements of the soil, the bad weather,
the multiple types of erosion. What to protect then? The element itself by artificially fixing its state
and protecting it against the effects of the natural factors that led to it becoming what it is? In other
words: where to stop the cliff? Or should it be protected from the consequences of human action by
decisions that are part of this same action? How to limit an action which, through the tourist activity
in particular, valid and builds the value of this heritage? These questions are all the more delicate as
the designation of heritage extends to new fields (biodiversity, floristic genetics, domesticated
plants or not, faunistic, human, etc.).

10 The contributions in this issue almost all show that the heritage of physical or biological objects
does not exactly produce a natural heritage - but rather an appropriation of the potential and
resources of the environment in response to the need to resist this feeling. incompleteness in the
face of the irreversibility of time to use the word of Mr. Rautenberg - the societal part of heritage is
today well understood by all.

11 C. Sacca and H. Cubizolle show that peatlands are still often considered as natural heritage but
that palaeoenvironmental and archaeological studies testify to the strong anthropisation of most of
them. An argument reinforced by the article by L. Laslaz explaining that the blue thistle, standard of
alpine biodiversity has been maintained through the mowing activity of artificial alpine meadows
intended to feed livestock. Even the heritage based on the resources of geomorphology, results of
processes as much physical as chemical does not exist outside the human: C. Portal shows clearly
that the geomorphological heritage is born above all from a look at the landscapes, as evidenced by
the anecdote of Ladies'Viewin Killarney National Park.

12 The karst cavities, results of environmental processes little - if not not at all - related to human
activity, however become heritage sites through the development of tourism, as the analysis in
detail Mr. Duval for the site d Orgnac; in this case, the tourist frequentation causes the
reinforcement of the measures of protection of the site. At the scale of France, V. Biot emphasizes
that the heritage status of caves is built in particular at the rate of scientific knowledge and
appropriation by visitors (local or not); the economic vitalization it produces in return has effects on
the recognition of the value attributed to these heritage sites.

13 F. Allio this case the original state of Taiwan whose population, condemned to retreat on the
island of Formosa, has had to forge a collective heritage based largely on a "nature" in a double
quest " affirmation of identity "coupled with" a quest for international recognition "to quote the
author. But the construction of "natural" or rather plant references is also identified in Europe. A.
Sgard evokes birch and pine as two particularly important landscape figures of the Swedish nation
and questions the link between the use of these landscape figures and the creation of a collective
identity around which they would be aggregated.