Landscape legacy: how amenity migration is producing new rural ecologies through the interaction of human and nonhuman agency (14554)
The migration of lifestyle-orientated landholders (amenity migrants) to rural landscapes is contributing to the production of new rural ecologies. We argue that in order to gain insights into the processes that are re-making these ecologies, research must examine the tangible and intimate interactions between landholders and their surrounding environment that occur through the practice of land management. We develop a heuristic called ‘landscape legacy’ that we build on through empirical work, to show how land management as an interaction between human and non-human (landscape) agency can propagate novel ecological futures. We conducted ethnographically inspired research in the hinterlands of Melbourne, Australia, which involved narrative interviews with landholders and walking their property with them, using a form of participant observation called the ‘walkabout’ method. Through applying landscape legacy we found that the land management practices of amenity migrants often produced unanticipated ecological arrangements, which ruptured existing perspectives on ecological restoration and notions of the ‘natural’ environment. Landscape legacy reveals how new rural ecologies are emerging through land management practice, as amenity migrants uncover contested ecological pasts. Our findings emphasise the importance of attention to temporality and landscape agency in rural landscape transitions and environmental management research.