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Cultural Landscapes BlogWP8: The human factor at work in the landscape

WP8: The human factor at work in the landscape

16 November 2016/by Geneviève Girod/Tags: stakeholder engagement, landscape values, landscape management, landscape resilience, landscape assessment, Cultural Landscape Days

Landscape is about people. "Landscape", according to the European Landscape Convention “means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors”.
WP8: The human factor at work in the landscape

Through the organization of three series of local workshops, in five study landscape, WP8 team engaged discussions with local people, to collect knowledge, develop in-depth insights on dynamics and values of cultural landscapes and translate them into policy and management options.

In Lesvos (Greece), researchers shared views with olive oil farmers on the future of olive trees cultures. In South West Devon (United Kingdom), discussion was settled around the future of hedgerows. In Colmenar Viejo (Spain), where urbanisation is growing, people were invited to discover heritage trails and map the places they value. Vooremaa and Kodavere parish (Estonia), heritage was connected to the history of lake Pepsi shore inhabitants. And Grand Parc Miribel Jonage (France) bound together local farmers and consumers to enforce local food provisioning through “Les Saveurs du Grand Parc” label.

A lesson clearly learnt from those five study landscapes, is that governance in the interest of sustainable landscape management and heritage conservation needs to be holistic, in the sense that they should take into account the biophysical environment, the human processes that co-produce it, and the human well-being that depends on it. Within each study area we witnessed interactions between the different stakeholders and gained insights on how social capital affected landscape change. We found that despite differences, similarities emerged, and social capital provides the template for personal and collective evaluation of landscape changes.

WP8 includes also demonstration activities, and local knowledge was used to test a valuation model that could include both stakeholders’ engagement and landscape integrated management dynamic. Related “good practices”, collected on HERCULES Knowledge Hub, were then sorted through six variables for sustainability against twelve areas of community management, upon questions interconnecting ecological and socio-cultural issues. This helped to frame Guidelines for landscape management on HERCULES Labs, together with Landscape Assessment tools.

Part of demonstration activities, Cultural Landscape Days were organized in each of the study areas to celebrate the uniqueness of the local environment. The events were designed to be accessible to the general public, and were thus in the native language of the country. Some were closely linked to the successful European Heritage Days initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. It was the case of the valuation of natural and cultural heritage in Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, in France (September 20th, 2014), tree celebration in South West Devon, in the United Kingdom (September 20th, 2014), or “My favourite landscape exhibition” in Lesvos, Greece (September 28th, 2016). They were more specifically related to involved stakeholders’ agenda in Kodavere area (August 5th, 2015) with the presentation of the Kodavere dialect study book (uavits), and in Colmenar Viejo (October 3rd, 2015), where was organized a guided walk along the Manzanares River.

Thus there’s no landscape without people. The complexity and diversity of European landscapes is matched by the complexity and diversity of the interests of those who live in, work in or visit any particular landscape in Europe. So let’s borrow the conclusion from our last local workshop in Estonia:


We change landscape, landscape changes us”.


Useful links:

Link to the European Landscape Convention

Guidelines for landscape management on HERCULES Labs

Cultural Landscape Days on HERCULES Knowledge Hub


Picture: Picture from the “My favourite landscape” exhibition, Cultural Landscape Day in Lesvos, Greece

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The information and views set out in this Cultural Landscapes Blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the HERCULES project nor the European Commission.

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