Cultural landskapes

The cultural landscapes of the Kenozero National Park define its unique value as an object of cultural and natural heritage of federal and world significance.

What is a cultural landscape

Integral complexes - historically formed as a result of harmonic interaction of nature and culture - are considered as cultural landscapes located on the territory of the Park, that includes: group (bush) or individual rural settlements, system of adjacent mainly public lands (lakes, fields, meadows) used for diverse nature forms, sacred places and facilities (churches, chapels , «Holy» groves, crosses), areas of adjacent forestry lands.

Культурный ландшафт Кенозерья. Фото К. Кокошкина

Many cultural landscapes have preserved well their historical spatial and functional structure, their various natural, historical and cultural elements - that are monuments of nature, architecture and history. Within their borders people continue to live - the bearers of traditional culture, the descendants of those who once created this natural and cultural diversity.

Николин камень в д. Морщихинской. Фото Д. Бастета

In other cases, the existence of cultural landscapes is reminiscent of only open meadow spaces, since there are no villages, the chapels have collapsed and disappeared. The most important characteristic of the cultural landscape of the Park was its contiguity and spirituality. «Holy» groves and stones became symbols of distant pagan times. Toponymic names of Finno-Ugric origin strengthen associative impressions. The abundance of Christian symbols, chapels, and crosses harmoniously adjoining the pagan elements of the landscape, further strengthen the spiritual emphasis.

Witnin their borders people continue to live - the bearers of traditional culture...

Structure of cultural landscapes

Historical settlements, agricultural lands, road-path network, sacred places and sacred centres - the main structure-forming elements in a single integrated system of cultural landscapes - they are united with each other through a system of functional, layout and visual interrelationships. Their precise systemic nature is also traced in the interaction with natural formations, in particular, in the conditionality of their location by the main macrostructures of the natural framework of the territory. The relationship with the natural topography greatly influences the development potential of the settlement site and its prospects. The integration of the structure of cultural landscapes largely depends on the preservation of visual landmarks and dominants, the preservation of contacts between people - the inhabitants of neighboring villages, the openness and position of sacred centres. Due to the loss of these elements and, above all, the visual links between settlements and open space systems, the integrity of the Park's cultural landscape system was partially disrupted, and in some areas even lost. The overgrowth of fields and roads with weeds leads to the loss of visual and often - ethnological, spiritual ties. The connection between the spiritual elements of the landscape and the surrounding territory can get lost.

Сенокосные угодья зарастают кустарником. Фото Д. Бастета

Formation of cultural landscapes

Knowledge of the laws of development and formation of cultural landscapes is of a great importance in their long-term management. That landscape, which is now regarded as having a universal heritage value, began to form in the 11th century and in its basic features took shape by the 16th century. Then community agriculture determined the appearance of the landscape. From the 16th to the 19th centuries the structure of the settlement was preserved in principle, but with population growth  and agricultural development of new lands underway due to the development of slash farming, accompanied a complication in  the mosaic of the lands. A system of sacred centres is being formed, which secures the holiness of the space. Forest crafts are being preserved.

Changes in cultural landscape

Until the beginning of the 20th century the landscape developed harmoniously, but since the 1930s the density of the population and the area of cultivated land have been in decline, and the forest has recaptured the previously lost boundaries. Many churches and chapels are being destroyed or adapted for other purposes, sacred centres lose their organizing role in the hierarchy of space, dubious economic imperatives become more important. It is the violation of the spiritual foundations of traditional society that leads to numerous losses in the sphere of material culture and economic order. In the 1960s, a campaign of enlargement of rural settlements was carried out, which leads to growth of several of them, depopulation of peripheral zones and was accompanied by the loss of functionally important components of the cultural landscape. By the end of the 1980s livestock breeding replaced crop growing and arable land was gradually being replaced by hayfields and pastures. As a result of changes in the system of settlement and management, there has been  a degradation of the cultural landscape, a reduction in the areas of open spaces, and a reduction in the fragmentation of the territory. However, the spatial structure and traditional elements of cultural landscapes - despite the obvious damage caused to them – have been preserved due to the exceptionally high historical and cultural potential of the territory. Significant treasures remain, and due to the inertia of a traditional society that diligently supports these values and forms of its life necessities.

How to preserve and revive a cultural landscape

The current economic situation in Russia is very complex and does not contribute to the economic revival of traditional forms of nature management that ensure the self-reproduction of the main features of the cultural landscape. Almost everywhere, there is a reduction in the area of farmland and its overgowth with arboreal shrub plant communities; the destruction of the traditional settlement system and the death of the traditional settlement network continue. However, against this background, positive tendencies are also noted, which can later ensure reversibility of the observed destructive processes. These are: the strengthening of cultural self-identification; interest in historical roots and traditions; and respect and involvement in religious spiritual values. 

 The need to preserve and restore the historical cultural landscapes of Kenozero is due to the fact that in most of the North-West of Russia there is virtually no such compact, economically and spiritually integrated entity that unites the historical, cultural and natural significance of the territories. The loss of even the «insignificant» structural elements of these landscapes leads to their degradation, loss of meaning, and later to their artificiality. Works on «conservation» and the restoration of some of the priority landscapes are now conducted in the Park. This work includes the collection of a variety of data on each individual territory, its analysis and the adoption of design decisions. Particular attention is paid to the participation of local residents in this activity, since only traditional economic use leads to the long-term existence of these landscapes.

Cultural and landscape areas

The entire territory of the Kenozero National Park can be divided into four cultural and landscape areas: Lokshmozero, Vilno-Porzhensky, Kenozero and Pochozero.

  ·         Vedenin Yu. A., Tormosov D.V. Cultural-Landscape Differentiation of the Kenozero National Park territory / Yu. A. Vedenin, DV Tormosov // Cultural Landscape as an Object of Heritage / Ed. Yu. A. Vedenina, M.E. Kuleshova .- Moscow: Institute of the Heritage; StP.: Dmitry Bulanin, 2004.- P. 425-444.
  ·         Management and Development Plan (Management Plan) of the Kenozero National Park for 2001-2005. / Scientific Archive of the Federal State Budgetary Institution National Park "Kenozero".