IFLA Europe at the CoE National Symposium on the Implementation of the European Landscape Convention - Landscape as a reflection and project of civilisation”
The Landscape as a reflection and project of civilisation” - National Symposium on the Implementation of the European Landscape Convention and Forum of the
National selections of the 6th Session on the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe 6th – 8th April 2022, Trikala, Greece
Our representative Michael Oldham, CoE Working Group member represented IFLA Europe at the Conference which was was hybrid in person and online affair, was held against an extraordinary landscape background of the towering heightsof the rock pinnacles of Kastraki Kalampaka.
The Symposium was arranged to present and debate public policies in Greece the implementation of the CoE Landscape Convention particularly with reference to article 5:
1. to recognise landscapes in law as an essential component of people’s surroundings, an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage, and a foundation of their identity;
2. to establish and implement landscape policies aimed at landscape protection, management and planning through the adoption of the specific measures set out in Article 6 of the Convention
3. to establish procedures for the participation of the general public, local and regional authorities, and other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of the landscape policies mentioned in paragraph b above;
4. to integrate landscape into its regional and town planning policies and in its cultural, environmental, agricultural, social and economic policies, as well as in any other policies with possible direct or indirect impact on landscape.
The forum of the National Selection of the 6th Session of the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe which followed, brought together the valuable experience of the member states. The Jury for the Award, which is very broadly based, consider four principal criteria. These are important to know in preparing projects for consideration at national level for selection to the competition.
Sustainable territorial development - includes demonstrating environmental, social, economic, cultural, and aesthetic sustainability.
Exemplary Value - setting a good example for others to follow.
Public Participation - dialogue and exchanges through public meeting and debates, consultation, and participation in the field.
Awareness Raising - increasing awareness among civil society, private organisations, and public authorities of the value of landscapes, their role and changes to them.
This means that many of the national submissions are not directly related to landscape design, management, planning or science.
The Conference was opened by local and national politicians who, encouragingly at least said all the right things. The first morning concentrated on Greece with the first-round table concentrating on ‘Historical and Contemporary Values of Hellenic Landscapes’. This continued in the afternoon with a second-round table ‘Landscape-based Public Policies’.
During this session, Eleni ATHANASIADOU, President of the Panhellenic Association of Landscape Architects presented a paper. The session was concluded by Michael OLDHAM who used the opportunity to reflect on his experience of fifty years of public and private practice, his perception of change both in the practice of landscape architecture, but also the increasing political awareness of the need to address global issues – reasons perhaps to remain enthusiastic, encouraged,and optimistic.
It was evident from the presentations that whilst some of the interventions called for a greater involvement of landscape architects, indeed a multi-disciplinary approach to planning, the presentations were dominated by planners and architects working from a relatively narrow perspective rather than a holistic view and, as such, failing to address some of the wider landscape and land use planning issues. Unfortunately, this is always going to be the case where landscape issues are addressed superficially from a lack of in-depth professional expertise. The interventions also sometimes represented a theoretical approach, generally in line with the objectives of the Convention, but behind in the implementation especially concerning public consultation right from the beginning.
The presence of PHALA and IFLA EU at this conference was important in promoting the profession and making useful contacts with government and fellow professionals. It would be important to consider repeating this presence in other events concerning the Council of Europe Landscape Convention, especially regional workshops.
Days 2 and 3 of the Conference dealt with the awards and the presentation of a variety of projects starting with the recreation of Lake Karla, Thessaly, Greece. The winning project, ‘the renaturation of the watercourse of the River Aire’ Geneva, Switzerland, was truly exemplary in showing how a nature-based solution (NBS) can achieve so much more than an engineering solution at half the cost.
A wide range of projects followed under the general topics of:
- Strong forward-looking actions to enhance, restore or create landscapes.
- Actions to conserve and maintain the significant or characteristic features of a landscape.
- Strong actions, from a perspective of sustainable development, to ensure the regular upkeep of a landscape, so as to guide and harmonise change.
The conference concluded with closing speeches from Maguelonne DEJEANT-PONS Executive Secretary of the CoE Landscape Convention, Environment and Major Hazards Division, and Evgenia LAGIOU, Head of Department of National Spatial Planning Strategy, Ministry of the Environment and Energy, Greece.