During the last years, the increasing significance of landscapes as a policy issue at the European level resulted in more information needs on the geographic distribution and typology of these landscapes. Policy implementation requires knowledge about the exact location, extension and characteristics of landscapes that receive policy interest.

Despite a number of encouraging research activities in the field of landscape ecology and geography, there is still a lack of widely recognised landscape typology and mapping that can find applications in the policy field. While a number of useful landscape typologies and maps have been developed at the national level, European approaches towards landscape mapping are still facing severe problems in terms of scale, accuracy and policy relevance. Policy relevance depends on the degree of how much the level of scale corresponds with the level of actual decision making. For general assessments it might suffice to operate at the level of landscape regions while more specific question of policy implementation at the national and regional level might require differentiating between landscape types or units.


At the European level, there are several major and gradually more and more interlinked policy instruments dealing with landscapes.

Among these are:

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), 1992
  • The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS), 1995
  • The European Landscape Convention (ELC), 2000.

For the European Union important instruments have been included into Agenda 2000.

In addition to these substantiating them, there are many other instruments influencing landscapes such as agriculture, forestry, spatial planning etc.


Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy

The Action Plan on European Landscapes is part of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS)(Council of Europe, UNEP & ECNC, 1995) that has been signed by 55 European countries and is presently under implementation. The central objective of Action Theme 4 is to actively promote the landscape concept as an opportunity to address all those pressing landscape issues which are complimentary to, but - at the European level - not sufficiently affected by, classical nature conservation approaches. Rather than being limited to area protection, the landscape concept offers integrative, preventive and pro-active tools to counter-act multi-dimensional environmental pressures and to initiate large-scale mitigation and restoration processes. AT4 is hence designed to respond to the following needs: a sound, transparent and scientifically stable methodology for describing and assessing the distribution, values, and land use aspects as driving forces and trends of landscapes of European importance on the base of European-wide developed and agreed-upon criteria (landscape indicators). The Action Plan is implemented under the lead of PEBLDS's Focal Point for Action Theme 4 on landscapes, namely the Council of Europe and the European Centre for Nature Conservation. The Action Plan specifies projects and actions on developing a European Landscape Map, identifying landscape assessment criteria, analysing future trends and opportunities and initiating awareness campaigns as well as policy debates. Since the implementation begun, reports on landscape assessment (Klijn et al, 1999), progress on the landscape map (Vervloet, 2000) and a European Workshop on 'Landscape & Sustainability (Wascher, 2000) have been completed.

The European Landscape Convention

The European Landscape Convention is an initiative of the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe was founded after the second world war, to enhance the fundamental human rights in Europe. Currently it has 45 member states and has its headquarters in Strasbourg.

The European Landscape Convention (Florence Convention) is a convention aiming at protection, management and planning of all landscapes, and to raise awareness for the values of a living landscape. In fact it stresses the right of the people to identify themselves with ‘their’ landscape, and the right of the landscape to be taken care of. Although the Convention is a weak policy document in terms of legal obligations and power, it represents a real concern with the threatened landscapes of Europe and a substantial appeal to the member states to establish an active landscape policy. Articles 5 and 6 describe the obligations the members states commit themselves to (see website CoE).

The text of the European Landscape Convention was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in July 2002, and the Convention was opened for signature and ratification in Florence (I) in November 2000. The Convention came into force 1 March 2004 after more than 10 member states had ratified the Convention. September 2004, 13 states had ratified: Norway, Moldavia, Rumania, Ukraine, Turkey, Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, San Marino, Armenia, Slovenia, Kroatia, Macedonia.

LANDSCAPE EUROPE is an acknowledged NGO at the Council of Europe with reference to the process of implementation of the European Landscape Convention. Several staff of LANDSCAPE EUROPE members have participated in this process, among which Bas Pedroli acted as an invited CoE expert in 2003. Dirk Wascher presented the LANDSCAPE EUROPE report on frontier landscapes (Wascher & Perez-Soba, 2004) at the inaugural meeting on the European Landscape Convention in Strasbourg on 17 June 2004.



  • Pedroli, B. (Ed., 2000): Landscape – Our Home / Lebensraum Landschaft. Essays on The Culture of the European Landscape as a Task. Indigo, Zeist. 221 pp.
  • Van Mansvelt, J.D. & B. Pedroli (2003): Landscape, identity and integrity. Towards sound knowledge, awareness and involvement.. Contribution to the Second Meeting of the Workshops for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention. Council of  Europe, Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg 27 November 2003.
  • Pedroli, B. (2004): Die europäische Landschaft, was tun wir mit ihr? Natur + Mensch 2/2004: 2-5.
  • Wascher D. & Perez-Soba M. (eds.) (2004): Learning from European Transfrontier Landscapes – a project in support of the European Landscape Convention. Alterra report 964, LANDSCAPE EUROPE, Wageningen

The European Spatial Planning Observation Network

Perspective (ESDP) in Community, national and regional policies. The European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) has been launched as a programme jointly managed by the Member States and the European Commission in accordance with the work programme adopted at the meeting of spatial planning Ministers in Tampere in 1999. The aim is to increase knowledge about territorial structures, trends and policy impacts in the enlarged European Union. The ESPON programme started in 2002 and is planned to continue until 2006. Although none of the studies undertaken are currently completed, a number of valuable outputs are already available. The programme is being carried out within the framework of the Community Initiative INTERREG III.

Under the overall leadership of Luxembourg, the EU Member States submitted a joint application entitled "The ESPON 2006 Programme – Research on the Spatial Development of an Enlarging European Union". The European Commission agreed the application on 3 June 2002. The administrative arrangements for ESPON are as follows:

  • Monitoring Committee (MC),
  • Managing and Paying Authorities (MA/PA),
  • Co-ordination Unit (CU),
  • ESPON Contact Points (ECP), and
  • Transnational Project Groups (TPG).

The TPGs are carrying out the research projects. Each TPG has to include research institutes from at least three countries and is led by a Lead Partner. The activities of the network are co-ordinated and supported by the Co-ordination Unit, working in conjunction with the ESPON Contact Points. The ECPs represent the research capacities of the member states, through their own expertise and their links with and knowledge about national research on spatially relevant topics.

The Managing and Paying Authorities and the Monitoring Committee are responsible for the management and monitoring of the ESPON 2006 programme. The functions of the MA and PA have been delegated to the Ministry of the Interior of Luxembourg. Two delegates per participating member state, and two Commission representatives are full members of the MC. EU Candidate countries can join the ESPON programme as observers, as well as full partners. Neighbouring States have been invited to join the programme as full partners.

Integration into sectorial policies

Observation of the European territory and its evolution is an important prerequisite to formulating territorial cohesion policies and for the application of the European Spatial Development Recent policy developments include the sectors of transport, regional planning and - most importantly - agriculture. In the field of agriculture, landscapes have become policy issues both the European and the global level. In 1998, European Commission launched a FAIR research project on agri-environmental indicators and took the lead on the topic of landscape indicators during the event of an OECD Indicator Workshop in York, September 1998. The paper presented by ECNC (Wascher et al., 1998) was the starting point of integrating landscape as an environmental concern at the level of OECD and ultimately of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The workshop led to the inclusion of 3 landscape indicators and the request to provide internationally standardised geo-references for landscapes. 

Europe's Agenda 2000

The Agenda 2000 (CEC, 1998), adopted during the Berlin EU Council in spring 1999, sets out a framework for the CAP till 2006. It includes a ceiling on the agricultural budget, a further shift to direct payments, revisions to several important commodity regimes, a comprehensive rural development legislation and a new 'Common Rules' Regulation, introducing cross-compliance and modulation. Scarcely any growth in spending on measures under the Rural Development Regulation is allowed for. However, there still are opportunities for Member States to implement the package in ways that promote biodiversity objectives. The individual measures within the Agenda 2000 package need to be considered separately.

Agenda 2000 provides a relevant policy framework to integrate environmental considerations into agriculture, particularly via the EC-Regulation on Integrated Rural Development. However, while rural development measures are now widely regarded as an important part of a forward looking conservation policy, they will not suffice for halting the decline in wildlife value on most farmland. Biodiversity conservation targets are not mentioned in any of the Rural Development Regulations. The budgetary resources for different rural development and agri-environment measures have hardly increased for the 2000 - 2006 period.

During a recent inter-institutional meeting a representative of the European Commission's DG Agriculture specified the interest of the Commission in landscape issues in the following way: 'the agricultural sector, affect landscapes and it is likely that the new Agenda 2000 will launch new rural environment initiatives which require better knowledge on the character, value and geographic distribution of European landscapes' (Council of Europe, 1998c).

Indicator Reporting on the integration of ENvironmental concerns into Agricultural policy

During each of its meetings, in Cardiff (June 1998), Vienna (December 1998) and Helsinki (December 1999), the European Council requested the Commission to report on the integration of environmental concerns into Community sectoral policies. As a contribution to meeting this requirement for the agricultural sector, it is necessary to develop indicators to monitor such integration, i.e. agri-environmental indicators (AEI). A set of indicators has been identified in a communication from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament (COM(2000) 20), and this set, and the statistics and other information needed to realise the indicators, is the subject of a further Commission communication (COM(2001) 144).


  • Operationalise the 35 indicators identified in COM(2001) 144 final at NUTS 2/3 level.
  • Develop and compile data sets for 35 indicators.
  • Produce an indicator report providing an environmental assessment of European agriculture.
  • Produce a policy assessment report on the integration of environmental concerns into agriculture policy.

Response Indicators

  • Area under agri-env. support
  • Regional good farming practice
  • Regional environmental targets
  • Area under nature protection
  • Organic prod. price premiums
  • Agricultural income organic farmers
  • Holders’ training levels
  • Area under organic farming