Up to and including the last century, villages were significantly influenced and shaped by their surrounding landscape. The landscape provided everything they needed to survive: food, energy, raw materials and construction materials. The knowledge required to manage the landscape was passed down along with the farms, fields and forests, forming the foundation for life in the region.
Nowadays, it seems as though humans are no longer dependent on their environment – even in villages. Water and energy are supplied through pipes and wires, roads lead everywhere you might want to go, food comes from the supermarket, and sewage is disposed of via indoor plumbing. As the way we use resources has changed, so too has our understanding of them. A great deal of knowledge is no longer in everyday use and is beginning to disappear from our consciousness. There is growing recognition that the slow disappearance of this practical knowledge represents a loss.
A collaborative project by the Erzgebirge/Vogtland Nature Park and the Western Erzgebirge Landscape Conservation Association (LPV Westerzgebirge) – supported by the Office for Rural Development (ALE) – aims to counter this loss by documenting historic forms of land use.
Archive research and literature reviews have been combined with interviews with and reports from people who witnessed this way of life in a comprehensive documentary report. The report can be viewed at the head office of the Erzgebirge/Vogtland Nature Park in Schlettau (tel. +49 37 3362 2106) and at the office of the Western Erzgebirge Landscape Conservation Association (LPV Westerzgebirge) in Schneeberg (Lindenau, tel. +49 37 722 4879).
Information can also be found at www.gebrauch-landschaft.de. You can also request the booklet “Vom Gebrauch der Landschaft im Westerzgebirge im Wandel der Zeiten” (A5, 64 pages, postage payable), which summarises the findings.