AuthorHirokawa, Keith H.
  1. INTRODUCTION 667 II. CULTURAL AND NATURAL RESOURCES 669 A. Rocks 670 B. Mountains 671 C. Islands 673 D. Forests and Groves 674 E. Water 675 F. Land and Landscape 678 III. LAW AND CULTURAL RESOURCES 679 A. Privatizing Cultural Ecosystem Services Through 680 Property Rights B. Federal Laws Designed to Aid in the Protection 683 of Cultural Resources IV. AN ECOSYSTEM SERVICES APPROACH TO CULTURAL 687 RESOURCES A. Ecosystem Services 687 B. A Special Category: Cultural Services Provided 688 by Ecosystems V. CONSIDERATIONS IN THE DESIGN OF EFFECTIVE CULTURAL 694 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES REGULATION VI. CONCLUSION 700 I. INTRODUCTION

    Place has a special role in directing the development of culture and cultural resources. Cultural norms, practices, and meanings develop in a place, often as an adaption to circumstances in religious, economic, and social ways. In this regard, ecosystems, like the concept of place, serve as the context in which culture develops. (2)

    Cultural resources appearing as shared icons and norms, situated challenges with nature, internalized beliefs, oral histories, and common words and practices, have significant meaning within a community and help organize identity and interactions among the group. (3) Culture is an important phenomenon, and, as noted by Peterson and Lubchenco, "[s]uch values need recognition." (4) UNESCO reports:

    We cannot ignore the promises of globalization nor its risks, not the least of which is the risk of forgetting the unique character of individual human beings; it is for them to choose their own future and achieve their full potential within the carefully tended wealth of their traditions and their own cultures which, unless we are careful, can be endangered by contemporary developments. (5) Culture, which includes the resources that sustain a particular culture, is always at risk.

    This Article considers the manner in which ecosystems provide the basis and context for cultural resources, referred to herein as cultural ecosystem services. Ecosystem services refer to that branch of natural resource economics that identifies the human benefits of ecosystem processes. (6) From this perspective, functioning ecosystems are assets that "provide basic life support for human and animal populations and are the source of spiritual, aesthetic, and other human experiences that are valued in many ways by many people." (7) The term "ecosystem services" has been defined to identify the "wide range of conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that are part of them, help sustain and fulfill human life." (8) The ecosystem services approach provides a critical understanding of ecosystems that recognizes not only the commodity values of goods produced by ecosystems but also the value of the essential services that ecosystem processes provide.

    Cultural ecosystem services are particularly problematic. Cultural ecosystem services are generally vulnerable to displacement like other ecosystem services; still, they may be considered even more vulnerable due to their intangibility and complications in deriving an objective means of valuation. (9) Yet, given the historical and place-based relationships between culture and ecosystems, cultural resources are quite valuable to their beneficiaries and often irreplaceable. In some cases, such as those ecosystem circumstances relating to recreational opportunities or scientific, educational, or economic events, the loss of particular cultural ecosystem services might be problematic due to their inherently local character of influence (10) as cultural ecosystem services are not valued outside of the cultural norms and practices in which they are situated. (11) Either way, the loss of cultural ecosystem services is challenged by the difficulty in comparing commodity values of resource development to the cultural role that the resource might play: environments of cultural importance have typically given way, and cultural norms have been forced into the impossible task of adjusting.

    This Article identifies the troublesome characteristics present in the analysis of cultural ecosystem services and considers how such a concept might play a role in the identification, regulation, and protection of such services. To introduce the topic, this Article first looks to a variety of ecological circumstances that suggest dependencies on ecologically situated cultural practices and values. By starting with the bio-physical circumstances of cultural resources, we can begin to identify beneficiaries and understand how these resources can be viewed as providing cultural services. This Article then looks to some of the major threats to cultural resources, including laws that fail to prioritize cultural resource integrity and those intended to heighten awareness of and protection for these resources. As a means of facing the continuing challenges of cultural resource protection, this Article suggests a more specific consideration of cultural ecosystem services. Based on the potential for the ecosystem services approach to provide better information on the relationships between ecological function and cultural resources, this Article identifies a framework for inquiry into cultural services regulation that may help to analyze the real costs of development on cultural resources and understand how policy can be used to protect the cultural benefits of ecological functionality.


    Ecological resources are vital to the cultural and social demands of human well-being. Natural sites such as trees, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and streams provide places where animals and plant species thrive and survive. In addition, depletion of natural resources not only challenges the survival of the ecosystem but can also have a significant impact on the integrity of cultural practices. (12) Natural sites "provide resources such as water and medicines... they are the location of events and ceremonies [.]... They link to livelihoods in many ways and the concepts of cultural services and human well-being are associated with them." (13)

    In the process of studying cultural practices, it is important to recognize that cultural resources have some type of objective value. However, it is equally (if not more) important to observe that the special meaning these resources imbue cannot be observed from afar. As anthropologist Clifford Geertz notes,

    at least some conception of what a human individual is, as opposed to a rock, an animal, a rainstorm, or a god, is, so far as I can see, universal. Yet, at the same time... the actual conceptions involved vary from one group to the next, and often quite sharply. (14) Place-specific study of culture, art, religion, and justice, among others, exposes differences and norms that are central to living in a place, but that may make less sense across boundaries. (15) Of course, the point of inquiring into instances of place-based culture is not to extoll, so much as to recognize that culture arises in such ways.

    1. Rocks

      Connection to ecological resources arises in a felt sense of place, which can happen through stories, myths, and legends. For instance, anthropologist Miriam Kahn has studied community dynamics in Wamira, a village on the northern shore of the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea, where the land is dry and hot. (16) In the Wamiran culture, hunger can indicate need and neglect, as well as the Wamirans' relationship with the land, their people, and the lack of food. (17) This connection to their village, or sense of place, stems from myths passed down through generations. (18)

      Long ago, a young woman lived with her husband and child. Every day her husband went to the garden, but returned without any food. Being hungry, the woman boiled stones. She and her child drank the broth from the cooked stones. One day, angered by her husband's behavior, she decided to turn herself into a cassowary and leave. She constructed wings for herself from coconut fronds, knee caps from coconut husks, and legs from black palm sticks. That day, when her husband returned, she spread her wings and fled. In an attempt to call his wife back, he tempestuously hurled stones after her. But she escaped and now lives as a cassowary in the mountains behind Boianai. Today, one can still see the stones in the village. There is a massive pile of stones, a full meter high, that is said to have accumulated as the hungry woman, each day, boiled them and tossed them aside. The boulders that her husband threw after her lie scattered along the path that leads from the village towards the mountains. (19) The stones throughout the village and on the way to the mountain symbolize the importance of nurturing one another through food and care. (20) This myth, which has been passed down from generation to generation, fosters the importance of the Wamiran culture within their village. (21)

      Another Wamiran myth explains both the placement and importance of a semi-submerged rock through an account of two sisters,

      Maradiudiva and Marakwadiveta. (22) This story memorializes the local significance of food sharing. (23)

      [E]ach time Maradiudiva went down to the sea to fetch salt water, her sister, Marakwadiveta, with whom she lived, gobbled up all the food and later fabricated lies about relatives who had come and eaten it. Hungry and hurt, Maradiudiva walked in to the sea and turned into stone. Now, with her stony countenance, she stands all alone in the bay. As the tide rolls in and out, the Wamirans perceive Maradiudiva rising and descending; a steady reminder to all that social living hinges on the sharing of food. (24) This Wamiran myth, shared with generations, highlights the importance of sharing food and treating each other with care, and further illustrates the connection between culture and place. (25) The village is located on the tip of the Solomon Sea, and the ebb and flow of the sea is a constant reminder of how...

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