Human-environment system boundaries: A case study of the honghe hani rice terraces as a world heritage cultural landscape

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Abstract

Any World Heritage Cultural Landscape requires a clear boundary for administration. One of the administrative goals is sustainability. There is no widely identified way to demarcate the boundary of a World Heritage Cultural Landscape. This paper aims to explore a methodology framework to provide a holistic perspective for demarcating boundaries for a World Heritage Cultural Landscape. Honghe Hani Rice Terraces (HHRT) in Yunnan Province is a new World Heritage Cultural Landscape in China. We use it as a research area to illustrate the methodology framework. The framework of methodology is constructed based on four scales of a human-environment system identified by Anne Buttimer. It is used to describe the level of the sustainability of local economy, social organization, natural environment and people's understanding of the human-environment. Four types of boundaries were investigated in this area. They are the boundary of Malizhai River Basin, the boundary of local water-allocation organization, the boundary of the economic network and the perceptual boundary of the human-environment system. With a comprehensive perspective, we integrated the four types of boundaries to judge the boundary of the core area of HHRT by three criteria, they are: Environmental sustainability, social justice, and the ability to create a new human-environment system. We conclude that some parts of the boundary of the core area of HHRT do not fit the criteria of sustainable development.

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Hua, H., & Zhou, S. (2015). Human-environment system boundaries: A case study of the honghe hani rice terraces as a world heritage cultural landscape. Sustainability (Switzerland), 7(8), 10733–10755. https://doi.org/10.3390/su70810733

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