Trends in European landscapes and their challenges to landscape policies

F. (Felix) Kienast

ELC, energy, climate change, rewilding, lifestyle

Landscape policies of European countries have often focused on preserving arcadic cultural landscapes, resulting in a network of protected areas. This asset needs to be managed wisely but complemented by dynamic landscapes capable of accommodating the needs of a mobile society, adapting to climate change and serving the energy transition. Consequently, landscape policies ought to be a mainstreaming effort of many more policy sectors than is the case today, so that the landscape can be significantly shaped for the better.

Summary: This paper identifies four challenges for European landscape policy. They are deliberately not mainstream trends as found in classical landscape conservation policy, but cross-cutting issues requiring concerted action-on by many policy areas. The first challenge is to create habitats with sufficiently low-intensity use and rewilding areas to allow biota to safely adapt to the new cli-mate conditions. Abandoned areas could well f it this role as they cover all biogeographic zones. The second challenge for European landscapes is the replacement of fossil fuels with new renewables that f it well into the landscape. It is argued that the energy transition will succeed if the population perceives the energy facilities as sustainability symbols that create landscapes with valuable landscape characters. The third and fourth challenges are to create landscapes that reflect sustainable lifestyles and are able to accommodate an increasingly mobile society. Landscapes should provide places that allow a multi-ethnic society, including forced migrants, to form bonds easily and thoroughly. Based on the four challenges, it is suggested that the mainstreaming of the concept “landscape” is decisive, as it involves many more policies than today, even policies that deal with landscape only marginally.

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