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J. Donald Hughes

Henry David Thoreau remarked that he had traveled widely—in Concord, Massachusetts. An intentionally contradictory statement, it is nonetheless true if the landscape is composed of many interpenetrating biomes and cultural uses. Fields and forests, groves and gardens, towns and temples form the tesserae of a landscape mosaic embodying the interpenetration of culture and nature, and while such elements provide diversity, they can also, paradoxically, mold integrity. The integrity of nature, in the sense of the completeness of the ecosystem that is present in a place, invests that place with power and lays a claim on sentient beings. Mosaic landscapes have a higher degree of biological diversity than monocultures because they manifest ecotonality, and they are spiritual stimuli for the psyches of those who live within and travel through them. Maintaining the variety of elements within the mosaic, and preventing effacement by huge, land-altering projects where "culture" disregards nature, is a moral imperative. The arrangement of tesserae in a particular landscape mosaic must not be haphazard, but should make both cultural and natural sense, following the underlying geology, the paths of celestial events, and the places where myth and history have resonated, binding cultural meaning to the fabric of the land. Such a pattern leaves areas of varying habitats where biodiversity may flourish. In a future when humans will inhabit the Earth sustainably, the concept of the landscape mosaic may serve as an organizing principle.