Conflicting Conservations?

Wind Turbing in Pubnico, NS. Photo c. Andrew d'Entremont, used under Creative Commons license

One of the topics we addressed a few times over in my landscape architecture classes this year is the issue of our current landscape values and how new technologies may conflict with them. This was again brought to mind for me this week when I saw two news reports on the CBC – one announcing Nova Scotia’s latest commitment to renewable energy, and the other out of Lunenburg about the conflict between heritage planning values and energy conservation values.

A couple in Lunenburg want to put solar panels on their roof; this is against against Lunenburg’s heritage conservation bylaws, which are designed to preserve the town’s internationally recognized historical landscape.   It’s a conflict that we might see a lot more of in the coming years, particularly if the province’s new energy initiative has tangible results. Do solar panels work against the integrity of heritage landscapes? Are wind turbines an ugly blight on our landscape, a utilitarian sight that is merely acceptable, or an icon of sustainability and therefore, potentially, attractive? And if our landscape and coastline is transformed by these new energy endeavours, how are we going to reconcile it to our own vision of what Nova Scotia’s landscape looks like, as well as with our current tourism approach?


1 Response to “Conflicting Conservations?”

  1. 1 julianhoffman 05/24/2010 at 11:09 AM

    These are interesting and thougthful questions you end your post with, and of increasing importance when it comes to land use, conservation, and how we perceive landscapes in general. The irony, of course, is that recognized historical landscapes end up existing outside of the very history that created them. They often strike me as false, appealing to an idea of place that no longer exists. But at the same time, without preservation of them, these sites would eventually end up lacking the identify they are endowed with. It is complex to say the least!

    Personally I’m quite drawn to wind turbines in the landscape, finding them inherently beautiful. When I lived in the north of England, I often walked towards a set of turbines that spun above the moors. The glimmering white blades were alluring. But where I now live in Greece there is a plan to build a wind farm on an extremely delicate mountain ecosystem, home to rare plants, mammals and birds. The turbines could cause the loss of migratory birds and upland breeders, will open a relatively untouched landscape to roads, and therefore hunters, and will destroy the habitat of a range of plants unique to the area. As is often the case with landscape, development that might be right for one place may be completely unsuitable for another. But who makes the decisions? And are they the right ones for the right reasons?

    Excellent blog! Looking forward to the next post…

    Best wishes,

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