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History of the Landscape Character Network

St Helen's Oratory, Cape Cornwall © Jemma SimpsonThe Landscape Character Network (LCN), under its orginal name of the Countryside Character Network (CCN), was set up in 1999 by the Countryside Agency as part of its Countryside Character Initiative. The work of the network was initially centred on the production and distribution of a paper newsletter and a programme of topical workshops. In 2002 the network's website became the focus of delivery: the newsletter became an electronic download, and was supplemented by a variety of downloadable resources, a discussion forum and relevant links.

The Countryside Character Network (CCN) was relaunched in February 2006 as the Landscape Character Network (LCN). The reason behind the name change was to better reflect the broader remit of the network, which aims to promote LCA as a tool for understanding and managing all landscapes, including town and seascapes. The Database of Landscape Character Assessments in England, initially a separate resource, was integrated into the LCN at the same time as the relaunch.

Speaking at the time of the name change, Rachael Mills, then the LCN-lead for the Countryside Agency’s Landscape, Access and Recreation division, stated: "The Countryside Agency recognises the increasing importance of Landscape Character Assessment as a tool for planning future landscapes. The new name clearly identifies the Landscape Character Network as the first port of call for information in this field. We encourage anyone with an interest in landscape to join the network and share their ideas and good practice".

In October 2006, the Countryside Agency Landscape, Access and Recreation division merged with English Nature and parts of the Rural Development Service to form Natural England, a new, integrated countryside and land management agency. Natural England now funds and co-ordinates the Landscape Character Network.

The European Landscape Convention (ELC) is the first international agreement on landscape, devoted to the protection, management and planning of all landscapes in Europe. It was signed by the UK government, ratified on 24 February 2006 and became binding on 1 March 2007. The growing prominence of the ELC and its principles and application in England, the UK and Europe is reflected in a new, dual role of the LCN. The Network continues to promote landscape character and Landscape Character Assessment, but also has a shared focus on the ELC. The website has been restructured to reflect this, with new, separate sections for ELC resources and links.

more> Find out more about Landscape Character Assessment

more> Find out more about the European Landscape Convention