Annual ASOP Romania’s Conference, 2020 Natural Connections. A new urban culture? Timisoara, 10 - 11 December 2020

Annual ASOP Romania’s Conference, 2020 Natural Connections. A new urban culture? Timisoara, 10 - 11 December 2020

The natural environment we inhabit is both our home and our garden, and it is the most important resource our species possesses. Nowadays, society negotiates the presence of this natural environment in its built infrastructure, as part of a complex ecosystem.This apparent tug-a-war is not without consequences, most of them extremely hostile towards nature and humans alike. Paradoxically, we are presently looking for ways to adapt to the new global challenges: climate change, the deterioration of our living environment and, more recently, the impact of the pandemic.

The indelible footprints of our past reveals that excessive densification, which aims only towards grey infrastructure development, has had a negative impact on our living environment. Rise in air and sound pollution, the formation of urban heat islands and biodiversity loss are all products of an unbalance generated by our way of life.

Accordingly, initiatives such as sustainable land use policies (Urban Greening Plan, Greenification), ecological infrastructure and wildlife corridor restoration and the appearance of bio-cities, eco-neighborhoods, urban forests, community gardens and urban farms are increasingly present in strategies that many cities adopt to enhance the quality of life. The message underlying these solutions speaks of a (re)turn to nature, part of what could be described as balancing urban planning and nature, a philosophy increasingly common throughout the world.

At a European level, protecting nature is one of the top priority solutions in adapting to current environmental changes, and consequently, restoring biodiversity is one of the major objectives of the European Green Deal Action Plan.

On the other hand, landscape is considered to be an essential component of social and individual welfare, and we are all entrusted with its protection. The landscape is a fundamental part of our natural and cultural heritage, contributing to the development of local culture, as expressed in the preamble to the European Landscape Convention (CoE), ratified in Romania by Law no.415/2002.

The way in which people have used nature (socio-ecological systems) is part of the inherited cultural landscape and is based on deep local expertise, invaluable today in pursuing sustainable action on the environment.

Today’s landscapes tell a lot about us, both good and bad, and it is time to realize that the positive footprints of nature-oriented solutions will eventually bring huge benefits for biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, as well as cultural and recreation values, as specified in the Landscape as Footprints on Earth Resolution, adopted in 2020 by IFLA
Europe -European Region of International Federation of Landscape Architects.

The numerous environmental problems facing Romania (which is by no means alone in this unenviable position) are the subject of more and more debates, both at a national level and at a European level (European Commission), where particular emphasis is placed on the human impact on the living environment, and as such, the increasingly limited access to quality ecological infrastructure. Looking at nature only though an aesthetic lens limits public discourse as it limits the development and implementation of urban planning strategies based on research and innovation, which highlight the crucial role of nature and ecosystemic services in the life of city dwellers. Therefore, a paradigm shift is not only necessary, but it becomes mandatory if we are to find answers to the new environmental challenges.

In this context, the third edition of the Annual Romanian Landscape Architect Association – AsoP Convention submits the following debate topic: nature’s status in relationship with the built environment. This nature and nature processes theme requires a multidisciplinary approach in urban policies, in order to improve the quality of life in cities and ensure access to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, as stipulated in Art. 35 of the Constitution of Romania.

This conference brings together scientists, experts and artists, representatives from the public administration, the private sector and NGOs, who, by virtue of their trade, are both competent and responsible for managing nature in the urban environment.

The conference program includes four debate sessions:

(1) Urban visions for developing, protecting and managing landscapes

(2) Ecosystemic services in landscape projects

(3) Landscape heritage

(4) Initiatives, experiments and best practice

This year’s AsoP Romania Conference is organized with the support of E-Distribuție companies, following on a nation-wide project which began in 2018, which aims to raise the quality of our living environment and in partnership with Timișoara City Hall, IFLA Europe - the European Region of International Federation of Landscape Architects, Romanian Order of Architects Timiș – OAR Timiș, Timișoara Architecture Biennial – BETA and The Romanian Arboriculture Association – ARA.

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