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Malham countryside1

Countryside just south of the village of Malham,Yorkshire Dales, England
Photo credit: David Benbennick

The European Landscape Convention, (ELC), an international treaty, was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 19 July 2000 and was opened for signatures on 20 October 2000. The Convention entered into force on 1 March 2004. To date (February 2006), 20 nations have ratified this treaty and a further 12 have signed it but have yet to ratify it.

The ELC defines landscape as ‘an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors’. Landscapes have important cultural, ecological, environmental and social dimensions and are a key element of achieving sustainable development. The ELC should ensure the importance of landscapes, whether rural or urban, built or natural are recognised, understood and integrated into policy and decision-making.

The convention aims 'to promote landscape protection, management and planning' and commits the signatories to:

  • integrate landscape into land use planning;
  • involve the public in landscape issues;
  • make national landscape laws and policies;
  • develop the raising of awareness, education and assessment of landscapes, including urban and peri-urban places; and,
  • co-operate at a European level.

Action in the UK Edit

Jim Knight, Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity announced the UK signing of the European Landscape Convention on February 24 2006.

Only when the convention is ratified by the UK's Parliament will it be fully binding on the UK Government.

According to the Countryside Agency, the UK is already putting much of the principles of the ELC into practice. For example the concept of landscape character - what gives a location its unique sense of place and identity - is already used to help manage and monitor changes in rural land use.

The Natural England partnership will be working with Government and others to develop an implementation strategy to help promote and develop the principles of the ELC through its work.

Character Area map of England Edit

A printed Character Area map of England, which outlines all 159 Character areas in England, is available via The Countryside Agency website

Reaction Edit

As well as the Natural England partnership, CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has welcomed the Government's signing of the Convention.


References

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