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European Landscape Convention

"Landscape means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors." (European Landscape Convention, 2000)

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland ©  Eva SchusterThe European Landscape Convention (ELC) is the first international convention to focus specifically on landscape, and is dedicated exclusively to the protection, management and planning of all landscapes in Europe. 

The ELC was signed by the UK government on 24 February 2006, ratified on the 21 November 2006, and became binding on 1 March 2007.

The convention highlights the need to recognise landscape in law, to develop landscape policies dedicated to the protection, management and creation of landscapes, and to establish procedures for the participation of the general public and other stakeholders in the creation and implementation of landscape policies. It also encourages the integration of landscape into all relevant areas of policy, including cultural, economic and social policies

Specific measures include:

  • raising awareness of the value of landscapes among all sectors of society, and of society's role in shaping them;
  • promoting landscape training and education among landscape specialists, other related professions, and in school and university courses;
  • the identification and assessment of landscapes, and analysis of landscape change, with the active participation of stakeholders;
  • setting objectives for landscape quality, with the involvement of the public;
  • the implementation of landscape policies, through the establishment of plans and practical programmes.

The convention also promotes European co-operation, mutual assistance and information exchange on landscape issues. There is a particular emphasis on the need for co-operation in implementing programmes relating to landscapes that cross administrative and national boundaries.

Speaking at the time of the UK's signing of the convention, Natural England's Director of Policy Andrew Wood said: "This is good news for landscape and Natural England. Effective, forward looking sustainable planning and management of landscapes everywhere will be at the heart of Natural England's work, for the delivery of a better natural environment and the wider benefits that distinctive landscapes brings to people and places."

The UK is recognised as already putting much of the principles of the ELC into practice. Our distinctive landscapes contribute to our identity and reflect local cultural influences as well as ecological diversity. This is shown through the Joint Character Area map of England and also through the well established practice of using Landscape Character Assessment to inform local policy making.

Svolvaer, Lofoten Island, Norway © Dr. Zsolt Zátrok Three networks have been set up to support organisations and authorities that work with landscape, to promote the principles and objectives of the European Landscape Convention and encourage the sharing of experience: ENELC caters for local and regional authorities, Uniscape for universities and Civilscape for non-governmental organisations.

The LCN website has an ELC resources section containing downloads, information and links relating to the Convention, including: the text of the convention and its explanatory report; the Council of Europe's Guidelines for Implementation of the ELC; the Framework for Implementation of the ELC in England, produced by Natural England with Defra and English Heritage.

more> Go to ELC Resources

more> Go to the European Landscape Convention pages on the Council of Europe's website

more> European Landscape Convention Workshops in January 2009