11. Footmarks
Both the politics and the spirituality of walking are rooted in biological reality: bipedal locomotion is the legacy of our co-evolution with the non-human. Through attentive walking we get to know the world and learn to live in harmony with all beings. Wayfaring awakens us to the many ways in which we are connected to the universe.   Footmarks may be followed by others and this is the basis of pilgrimages where walking stimulates the imagination to make connections with past people with the same values. 
At the heart of the value system of wayfaring is a communication system comprising travel guides, annotated maps, gazetteers, picture albums and personal accounts of actual journeys. An interaction with any of these types of travel guide is a meditative journey producing 'attachments to place' that only the reader can take.  It may remain a virtual journey or become reality in an actual landscape.
Footmarks as culture
The World Heritage Committee's definition of 'cultural landscape' includes:
The organically evolved landscape
  • A relict (or fossil) landscape which shows evidence of previous civilizations, with still very visible features such as prehistoric sites in the Sahara.
  • Continuing landscapes, which retain an active social role in modern society and are linked to a traditional way of life.
Over half a century, the rice paddies of north-eastern Madagascar have become a cultural landscape. Population pressure forced farmers to abandon cloves and grow rice instead. The long-term care of the land calls for building irrigated terraces which have permanently changed the landscape.
The associative cultural landscape
  • This shows powerful religious, artistic or cultural associations with the natural element rather than material cultural evidence, which may be insignificant or even absent.
Sacred groves, protected by religious taboos, are areas which have been preserved thanks to cultural practices. These areas, which are genetic reservoirs, help us to better understand biodiversity. So cultural practices protect the environment as well.
Text: World Heritage Centre