The sense of place can be defined as the feeling that people have for a special place. This feeling is connected with culture and experience. Today the sense of place that is considered also identity, attachment, and dependence is vanishing due to a ubiquitous modification of land, loss of values and of aesthetic distinction. Often the process of land abandonment is an important process that reduces the sense of place in people and society. Placelessness (e.g. Relph 1976) is a term that can be applied to places that have lost this cognitive character; "insidedness" represents the sense of expectation from a place while "outsidedness," develops when people and place are not connected and alienation occurs (Fig. 9.6).
Landscape and the sense of place are not connected by a common paradigm but developing the theory of resources it is possible to fill this gap. In this way inside the cognitive landscape domain it is possible to find specific eco-fields that are connected with cognitive templates created by a cultural process. The sense of place is a composite blend of spiritual, affective, and cultural landmarks that have been fixed in the individual or societal memory by an educational process. If we adopt the eco-field paradigm to the sense of place we need to distinguish separately the component of this emergent phenomenon.
The loss of a specific eco-field contributes to an increase of placelessness and to the loss of resources. The impoverishment of some regions such as the Mediterranean uplands is the consequence of resources that are no longer used by local people. Considering that most resources are maintained by specific human stewardship through a process of niche construction, when such stewardship is interrupted for whatever reason, resources decline and become extinct. For instance, a
Sense of place = 2 Eco-fields
Placelessness = Disappearance of the eco-fields
Fig 9.6 According to eco-semiotic theory and the eco-field hypothesis the sense of place is the sum of all the eco-fields necessary to track separate mental resources. When some eco-fields disappear, for instance when a site is significantly modified, the sense of place is transformed into placelessness thereby losing the interest of human beings.
rural soil when abandoned or no longer ploughed develops over a short time into a shrub or forest soil losing the characteristics of cultivable soil.
Wild fires that are so common across the coastal Mediterranean region are the result of abandonment and neglect of woodland resources. However, when such resources are utilized for example by logging, the forested ranges receive indirect protection by people that perceive in the place the presence of a valuable resource.
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