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Quotation: Dirk Wascher (2013): Introduction to the environmental Impact Area Landscapes:


The European landscape was formed by its rich human history; by the people who cultivated the land throughout the centuries. Only two centuries ago about 80% of the population still lived in the countryside. New technologies, new crops, new fertilisers and pesticides and new management techniques; all implemented on a varying time-scale and with different environmental conditions; led to complex interactions between humans and nature, which are millennia old in many places, and which resulted in a rich amalgam of cultural landscapes in Europe. The complexity of the natural and man-made phenomena that have contributed to the shaping of Europe’s landscapes is also reflected in the many different values that are attached to them: ecological, aesthetic, archaeological, earth-scientific, historical and cultural values, as well as economical ones such as (traditional) food, recreation and tourism, craft and art works. All together they contribute to the dynamic identity or character of landscapes.
More than other landscape definitions that have been developed during the last decades, the OECD approach (2001) has offered an operational framework for landscape assessment at the international level with clear orientation towards political and economic targets. From this perspective, landscape functions and values are no longer considered as by-products of coincidental biophysical conditions and management regimes, but are interpreted as conscious societal demands towards the supplier or producer – for instance the local farmer.
Despite notorious short-comings in the supply with socio-economic data on landscape character, landscape research has successively developed broader and internationally accepted references, such as landscape classifications (Mucher et al. 2006 and 2010) and landscape indicators by EEA (2004 & 2006), JRC (Paracchini et al. 2010) and OECD (Wascher 2000). On the policy side, the European Landscape Convention (Council of Europe 2000) has emerged as an overarching framework for which most EU Member States have signed up to. At the national level, landscapes which protection corresponding with Category V of the 1978 IUCN guidelines ranges from 3% to more than 30% of the surface (Stanners and Bourdeau 1995).

This impact area is further specified by the taxonomy terms: Landscape character, Landscape functions, Landscape protection.

Relevant Policies

Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention 1972) stimulates the protection of those cultural and natural properties that are considered to be of outstanding universal value according to which cultural landscapes represent the "combined works of nature and of man" (Article 1). In Europe, there are currently 41 designations as ‘cultural landscapes’.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention 1992) does not specifically include landscapes, but takes into account the full opportunity from in-situ conservation such as national systems of protected areas, or areas where special measures need to be undertaken to conserve biological diversity as well fundamentally addressing the integration of biodiversity into sectors.
Cultural Convention (1954) asks Contracting Parities “to safeguard and to encourage the development of its national contribution to the common cultural heritage of Europe”, mainly by facilitating the movement and exchange of persons as well as of objects of cultural value.
Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (1969) and of the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage (1985), both with special focus on the history of mankind and its relation with the natural environment, including structures and monuments (whether on land or under water). All three above mentioned conventions must be considered as providing the first points of reference for promoting the conservation of cultural landscapes.
Pan-European Biodiversity and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS) (Council of Europe, UNEP & ECNC 1995) puts forward five-year action plans under which Theme 4 specifically addresses the conservation of landscapes.
The European Landscape Convention - also known as the Florence Convention, - promotes the protection, management and planning of European landscapes and organises European co-operation on landscape issues. The convention was adopted on 20 October 2000 in Florence (Italy) and came into force on 1 March 2004 (Council of Europe Treaty Series no. 176). It is open for signature by member states of the Council of Europe and for accession by the European Community and European non-member states. It is the first international treaty to be exclusively concerned with all dimensions of European landscape.
Convention text:
Explanatory Report:
European Union
Agenda 2000 adopted during the Berlin EU Council in Spring 1999, sets out a framework for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) until 2006. The EU-Rural Development Regulation introduces a more integrated approach. Rural Development Plans provide the basis for regional monitoring schemes that take into account the carrying capacity of the region – issues of high relevance for landscapes.
European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) makes explicit mention of the role of cultural landscapes for regional planning. According to the policy text, cultural landscapes contribute, through their originality, to local and regional identity and reflect the history and interaction of mankind and nature. They are of considerable value, for instance as tourist attractions. The way in
which agriculture is practised is frequently the most important aspect in countering the destruction of cultural landscapes.
Euroscape 2020:on May 23rd, the high-level seminar in Stresa, Italy, the expert network Landscape Europe ( launched the Euroscape 2020 process at the level of both the European Union and its Member States. By calling for more explicit landscape goals as part of the EU’s rural development schemes, new forms of governance and reporting as well as a stronger synergy between national and European spatial planning initiatives, Euroscape 2020 generated visions for some very pressing environmental and social problems.
National policies
Site designation for landscape protected areas (IUCN Category V) is in the responsibility of the Member States and individual countries. There are currently more than 12.000 designated sites in Europe with alone more than 7000 in Germany. The surface area amounts to more than 25% of the total.

Legal basis for the Commission to act

According to the Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Union policy on the environment shall contribute to pursuit of the objective of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment.

Web Resources

Council of Europe. 2000. "Council of Europe. 2000. "European Landscape Convention - Explanatory Report & Convention" European Treaty Series No. 176. European Treaty Series No. 176.
EEA. 2005. "Agriculture and environment in EU-15 — the IRENA indicator report."
Stanners, D. & Bourdeau, P. (Eds.). 1995. "Europe’s Environment – The Dobríš Assessment." A Report of the European Environment Agency



Publications and Projects


Related Terms

Landscape character

Landscape functions

Landscape protection

Publications and applications

Titel Type of practice Updated date
Measuring societal awareness of the rural agrarian landscape: indicators and scale issues. Publication 2013-05-07 07:57
Overview on agricultural landscape indicators across OECD countries. Publication 2013-05-07 07:48
A framework for monitoring landscape functions: The Saxon Academy Landscape Monitoring Approach (SALMA), exemplified by soil investigations in the Kleine Spree floodplain (Saxony, Germany) Publication 2013-04-16 12:52
A new European Landscape Classification (LANMAP) – a transparent, flexible and user-oriented methodology to distinguish landscape. Publication 2013-05-07 07:53
Agri-environmental Indicators for Landscapes Publication 2013-05-07 07:49
Agri-environmental schemes and the European agricultural landscapes: the role of indicators as valuing tools for evaluation Publication 2013-12-09 10:07
Agriculture and environment in EU-15 — the IRENA indicator report. Publication 2013-05-07 07:55
Assessing landscape functions with broad-scale environmental data: insights gained from a prototype development for Europe Publication 2013-04-15 20:50
Bestimmung von Landschaftsfunktionen als Beitrag zur Leitbildentwicklung. Publication 2013-04-15 21:24
Consequences of human modification of the global nitrogen cycle Publication 2014-12-08 17:29
European Research for Impact Assessment Tools Publication 2014-04-17 14:41
IA Report: Communication on future EU transport policy Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-05 09:40
IA Report: Communication on Winning the Battle against Global Climate Change Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-05 11:40
IA Report: Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-27 13:30
IA Report: General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 "Living well, within the limits of our planet" (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:26
IA report: Mid-term review on the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 22:29
IA Report: Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:31
IA Report: Regulation on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines with respect to emissions from heavy duty vehicles (EURO VI) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 22:15
IA Report: Renewable Energy Road Map Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 20:22
Impact assessment tools applied to impact assessment of EU policies in agriculture and environment. Publication 2014-04-14 15:49
Indicators to assess rural landscape valuation: how and what is measured at different levels of governance Publication 2013-04-15 20:55
Indicators to assess rural landscape valuation: how and what is measured at different levels of governance. Publication 2013-05-07 07:47
Integrating agroecology and landscape multifunctionality in Vermont: An evolving framework to evaluate the design of agroecosystems Publication 2013-12-08 21:55
Land use functions - a multifunctionality approach to assess the impact of land use changes on land use sustainability Publication 2013-04-15 21:02
Landscape Character Book Publication 2013-06-14 12:45
Landscape Scenarios and Multifunctionality: Making Land Use Impact Assessment Operational. Publication 2014-04-14 15:40
Mainstreaming ecosystem services into EU policy Publication 2014-04-14 15:45
Multifunctional, self-organizing biosphere landscapes and the future of our Total Human Ecosystem Publication 2013-04-15 21:05
Screening decisions concerning the likely impacts of plans and projects on Natura 2000 sites Publication 2013-12-17 08:21
Short and long-term impacts of nitrogen deposition on carbon sequestration by forest ecosystems Publication 2014-12-08 17:11
SUSMETRO Project 2013-10-21 11:16
The challenge of embedding an ecosystem services approach: patterns of knowledge utilisation in public policy appraisal. Publication 2014-04-14 15:21
The Policy-Relevancy of Impact Assessment Tools: Evaluating Nine Years of European Research Funding Publication 2014-07-09 16:32

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
Diehl, Katharina Expert 2013-02-14 14:40
Heureka Model 2014-04-04 12:54
Landscape functions Impact Area 2014-01-23 12:26
Landscapes Impact Area 2014-01-22 16:28
Nendel, Claas Expert 2013-01-15 19:37
Peterson, Kaja Expert 2014-03-05 09:38
Reidsma, Pytrik Expert 2014-04-08 17:04
Werntze, Andreas Expert 2014-03-28 11:11