The European Landscape Convention (Florence, 2000)

What, according to the Convention, does the term “landscape” cover?
The landscape is part of the land, as perceived by local people or visitors, which evolves through time as a result of being acted upon by natural forces and human beings.  “Landscape policy” reflects the public authorities' awareness of the need to frame and implement a policy on landscape.  The public is encouraged to take an active part in its protection, conserving and maintaining the heritage value of a particular landscape, in its management, helping to steer changes brought about by economic, social or environmental necessity, and in its planning, particularly for those areas most radically affected by change, such as peri-urban, industrial and coastal areas.

Identifying and protecting landscapes
The Convention sets great store by identifying and assessing landscapes through field research by professionals working in conjunction with local inhabitants.  Each landscape forms a blend of components and structures:  types of territories, social perceptions and ever-changing natural, social and economic forces.  Once this identification work has been completed and the landscape quality objectives set, the landscape can be protected, managed or developed.

The people at the heart of landscape policy
One of the major innovations of the European Landscape Convention is the definition of “landscape quality objectives”, meaning, for a specific landscape, the formulation by the competent authorities of the aspirations of the public with regard to the landscape features of their surroundings.  No longer the preserve of experts, landscape is now a policy area in its own right.

Management in line with landscape quality objectives also calls for education and training, including training for specialists, elected representatives and the technical staff of local, regional and national authorities, and school and university courses dealing with values attached to the landscape and its protection, management and planning.

Landscape has no borders
Landscape is not a matter for individual states alone.  It also needs to be considered in international policies and programmes.
Co-operation between Parties is designed to enhance the effectiveness of the measures taken in each state, provide mutual technical and scientific assistance and facilitate exchanges of landscape specialists and the sharing of information on all matters relating to the Convention.   
Transfrontier co-operation is encouraged at local and regional level and, where necessary, can pave the way for the preparation and implementation of joint landscape programmes.

The Convention also established a Council of Europe Landscape Award, which the Council’s Committee of Ministers can award to a local or regional authority, or a group of such authorities (in one country or on a transfrontier basis) or a non-governmental organisation that has instituted a policy or measures to protect, manage and/or develop their landscape, which have proved lastingly effective and can thus serve as an example to other territorial authorities in Europe.

The Florence Convention and other international treaties
The European Landscape Convention introduced a Europe-wide concept centring on the quality of landscape protection, management and planning and covering the entire territory, not just outstanding landscapes.  Through its ground-breaking approach and its broader scope, it complements the Council of Europe’s and UNESCO’s heritage conventions.