Whether people like it or not, landscapes change. Accepting this and understanding processes of landscape change are prerequisites for the maintenance and development of specific landscape- or ‘natural’ values. This paper discusses the relevance of landscape historical information and insights to the management of landscape change. The focus is on the Netherlands, especially the Pleistocene inland part of the country and on the period 1000BP - present. Two dominant (seemingly contradictory) long-term processes of landscape change can be distinguished: drowning and ‘desertification’ (severe land degradation). Both will be outlined. The first of these historical processes, ‘drowning’, is also highly relevant to one of today’s most pressing topics: how to cope with the consequences of climate change. Long-term studies of landscape formation processes and the associated landscape dynamics can provide essential contributions to the formulation of historically acceptable solutions to current challenges and problems, and to the dissociation of processes of policy making, planning and decision from current fashions. Linking the so-called ‘Landscape Development Plans’ to research guided by the concept of ‘landscape biography’ proves to be an effective strategy to achieve this. Insight into the long-term history of people and landscapes can effectively inspire and shape future developments, especially on a regional and local level.
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