In past centuries, landscapes developed slowly. Natural forces tended to keep a balance between plants, men and other species. Even man-made landscapes -- cultural landscapes -- were varied in character and rich in species. In recent decades the balance has been upset by the use of agricultural machinery and technologies, and the growing population. Industrialized societies expand rapidly, making heavy demands on resources. Fragile geological forms and living plant and animal communities, evolved over many thousands of years, can be destroyed very quickly. Once disintegration of a landscape begins it is difficult to reverse, leading to ugliness, wastelands, and erosion of fertile land (as a result of over-grazing, unwise cropping, mining, tourist facilities construction, and ill-considered deforestation). Culturally important landscapes include natural, modified, cultivated or built environments (separately or in combination), that symbolize a particular relationship between a society and the natural world. They may range from sacred groves and other sacred sites (as in Southeast Asia) to tracts of moorland (as in Europe) and alpine landscapes. Such landscapes are vulnerable to inappropriate development projects.
Many of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK have been seriously damaged by farming and development. Natural lowland pasture rich in wildlife has been replaced by cereal crops. More recently windfarms have been intruding on the aesthetics of both lowlands and previously untouched uplands. The degradation has been accelerated by the large number of visitors.