Landscape management assessment

Guidelines for landscape management, built within HERCULES project, were meant to propose a valuation model that could include both stakeholders’ engagement and landscape integrated management dynamics.

On first step, European landscape innovative initiatives were collected both from local and expert knowledge, included two entries:

  • Local stakeholders’ knowledge has been collected through 3 series of local workshops, on HERCULES study landscapes,
  • Heritage initiatives have been collected at European scale, with selection of 20 most significant upon 165 initial, using the method of expert assessment.

A second step procedure allowed us then to sort concrete examples of collected initiatives through a global frame based on 12 issues addressing six sustainability variables (from ISO 37101 toolbox – Management system for sustainable development in communities).

It is essential to understand that there is no such thing as policy measures that could be recommended in every European cultural landscape. As a result, governance solutions must be applied in context, and heritage conservation needs to be holistic, taking into account the human factors at work in the landscape as well as biophysical aspects.

To assess those at landscape scale, it was thus found possible to test a qualitative Landscape Management Assessment frame, useful both to assess risks and opportunities and to be accountable to local actors, and built upon questions interconnecting ecological and socio-cultural issues.

At plot size, Landscape Ecological Diagnostic aims to be a valuation model that could assess biodiversity on cultural landscapes, with an “eco-anthropological” approach using the functions of landscape structures, to qualify site biodiversity load and serve sustainable land use management.

Try our Landscape Management Assessment

Try our Landscape Ecological Diagnostic


Biodiversity and ecosystem services

Biodiversity is a hot topic in our societies where landscape issues deals with its preservation at different scales. Ecosystem services contribute directly here to the attractiveness of cultural landscapes. SAVE Foundation, for example, strive to halt and reverse the trend of genetic erosion of agrobiodiversity, the biodiversity in agriculture. In times of climate change the living conservation of agricultural biodiversity is essential, since their broad genetic spectrum allows adaptation to changing environment. Preserve agrobiodiversity in Europe through local breeds and varieties are well adapted to their environment and need little or no nutrition supplements appears to be relevant hence their ecological footprint is generally better than in the modern high-yielding breeds and varieties.

BERAS promote a genuine ecological alternative for a good environmental status of the Baltic Sea, and establish ecological recycling  agriculture (ERA farms) in intensive agricultural areas and thereby reduce input of nutrients and pesticides to the Baltic Sea.

Within HERCULES project, links between biodiversity index and landscape features were studied. A biodiversity plot index was established on questionnaires developed for each landscape structure. The resulting index was correlated with a range of flora and fauna inventories (insects, including dragonflies and moths, amphibians, and birds). The results show no significant correlation between the value of the index on different plots and flora and fauna richness, but appear to show correlation between the diversity of landscape structures and flora richness. Functional biodiversity studies demonstrate  that landscape features are of ecological interest when they represent all together at least 20% of the surface and landscape complexity is recognized when they reach minimum 30% of the surface.Our new  Landscape Ecological Diagnostic aims to be a valuation model that could assess biodiversity on cultural landscapes, with an “eco-anthropological” approach using the functions of landscape structures, to qualify site biodiversity load and serve sustainable land use management.

Coenagrion mercurial in Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, photo Dimitri Mercier

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Landscape and mobility

The establishment of green and blue corridors combines well with the development of pedestrian and cycling trails, and it is also an opportunity for the community to cross agglomeration maps climates and ecological coherence schemes. Thus, one of the actions from Annecy Community association Energy and Climate Territory Plan seeks to create synergies between nature and trails that aims to:

  • Provided sufficient fresh wells, well distributed in the territory and of good quality,
  • Impulse a mobility dynamic that supports pedestrian and cycling paths, together with ordinary nature,
  • Link mobility trails and ordinary nature,
  • Create a network.

Four indicators are proposed:

  • Trail linear mapped, planned and realized,
  • Number of housing and jobs within 500 ml of a path,
  • Attendance by the population,
  • Sustainability of freshness wells.

This action is part of a coherent set built on the animation based on several working groups, each covering specific themes, and resulting in the creation of an action program.

At wider scale, the project on the Nervion River banks, Spain, aims to regenerate the landscape associated with the river and promote ecological connectivity between different cities through which the river. Nervion river is located in a valley of a region with hilly and mountainous terrain, resulting in a concentration of industrial land and urban infrastructure in the flat areas. The project was implemented in several phases, with the development of alternative modes axis (pedestrian-cyclist) following the course of the river, and connected to the network stations. The aim is to regenerate the landscape associated with the river and promote ecological connectivity between the different cities where the river passes (E-CLIC Case Study # 32, Nervion River).

Linear Park Nervión: Development of an axis soft modes connected to the network stops between the cities of Llodio and Delika (Source: Elena Gomez Chico, Parque lineal en el alto Nervión)

Elsewhere in Europe, Sperrins Gateway develops walking trail and /or multi use trail like Ulster Way, Old Dublin road access, gate and pillars enhancement, including Moyola river access work with the Moyola Angling Club, Moorland habitat restoration works for the native red grouse at Lough Fea and grey partridge at Megargy, and Heritage skills programme restoration and conservation of small built structures (stone pillars, small lime kilns, milk stands etc.).

The municipality of Colmenar Viejo has also created a dense net of walking and cycling paths all over the area that connect places of cultural and natural relevance with the village. Together with these routes there are many heritage restauration projects going on linked to the places that have been made accessible through the routes. And Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, other HERCULES case study landscape, is now a major step of Via Rhôna, a bike tour from Lake Geneva to France’s Mediterranean beaches !

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Landscape infrastructures

ISO TR 37150 technical report reviews the community infrastructure along the lines of community functions described in table below.

Layers of a community

Basic functions of community infrastructure appear to support the other two levels, and cultural landscapes have a major connection to water supply, transportation, and to a lesser extent management of green waste.

Water is at the origin of the history of the territory of the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, which handles a great multiplicity of uses: it is especially a source of drinking water, and a flow area to fight against floods, which also led to the establishment of safeguards for the preservation of biodiversity, but also a raising, industrial activity with gravel extraction, that is disappearing today, and recreation place for eastern Lyon residents. Formation of the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage comes from the construction of Miribel channel to improve navigation conditions in the 1850s. After 1890 it was the turn of the Jonage canal to be built, enabling the creation at this time, of the most powerful French hydroelectric plant. From 1950, control of the Rhone river will allow to exploit the site’s assets: 3,000 hectares free of urbanization on the outskirts of the town, abundant and pure underground water, a favorable framework for economic activities and pleasant scenery. Created in 1968, the SYMALIM (joint association for development of the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage) gradually acquires land and plans development at a steady pace, allowing the creation of large bodies of water for recreation. In 1988, an emergency pumping station is created in the main lake, so that the metropolitan area has an alternative source of drinking water.

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Water in Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, vital infrastructure for the city of Lyon (photo Alticime)

According to Cerema, « sanitation devices may constitute amenities opportunities conducive to the development of biodiversity and diversification of the urban landscape… ». These adjustments may be composed of a mosaic of environments such as ponds, swamps, ponds, wet meadows. In well-designed operations, residents can rather perceive recreational aspects and improvements of their living environment than water treatment feature. Park San Vicens, created in 2009 from a local consultation process, is thus an excellent example of pooling uses with the provision of public scenery in a storm water management dedicated lake. It contributes to actions for climate change adaptation in the city of Perpignan urban nature development plan. Although of recent design, it now has a relatively mature aspect considering tree and shrub wealth. The choice of Mediterranean species is favorable to local biodiversity, as well as the presence of the basin and a flood meadow mown once a year. The primary purpose of the site is to provide an outlet for rainwater in the city. To address the complexity of water management in the Mediterranean environment, with an oscillating water regime between period of summer drought and autumn floods, bias has been to rely more on the resilience of the site that resistance. The hydraulic device consists of a holding tank of rainwater, completed by a flooded meadow in heavy water. The device appears to work very well. But first of all, this green area of 6.5 ha is a place for intergenerational urban nature services (playground, jogging path, shaded areas, pool, picnic area, areas accessible to bikes …). Pontoons and walkways wooden path of the San Vicens Park are accessible to people with reduced mobility. In addition, decks are locally produced, using larch., and from timber production to sawmill, all gateways were provided locally. Moreover, during the creation of the park and ponds, all the materials were reused on the site, to frame views and form different moods.

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Circulations around water park in San Vicens, Perpignan

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A safe landscape

Safety and security are poorly addressed issues in cultural landscapes. In urban areas, green space are recognized to play a preventive role, reducing the occurrences of assault and domestic violence (Schellenbaum Lovasi, 2008). Safety, however, proves a theme apart, for nature vehicles an imaginary in which it is still seen as a source of danger. Paul Gobster identifies six interrelated « human dimensions » associated with studies of green and blue frames: cleanliness, naturalness, aesthetics, safety, access and appropriateness of development. The dimension related to safety is expressed through two aspects for stakeholders in rivers edge: “physical safety – children at risk of falling into the river, health concerns result about direct physical contact with polluted water; and personal safety – the river as a hang-out for young gangs engaged in criminal activity, a place for drinking and drugs use, and as habitat for the homeless”. “There were considerable differences in safety perception across the corridor. In one stretch youth gangs were prevalent and limited the use of some of the sites. In other reaches, respondents were concerned about having an accident” (Gobster, 2004). The issue of public safety arises permanently in large parks, sometimes with a choice between more extensive maintenance for biodiversity, and the need to maintain visibility for the safety of all.

Lines of sight maintenance under trees_Parc de Parilly_Lyon Metropolis
Parc de Parilly, Lyon Metropolis

Ecojardin standard integrates public information criteria, including general information (emergency phone number), educational information, and temporary information, such as work in progress, to warn users of upcoming changes and their reasons. Regarding public safety, the two main considered points are the periodic verification of playgrounds, and tree health diagnosis, at least twice a year, to make adequate decision for their conservation or not, based on risks evaluation for the public.

This contradiction between safety and biodiversity in cultural landscapes is even more present in schools. Potential concerns of parents about the dangers include those associated with the introduction of wildlife that requires management. The question of the safety of schoolyard gardens is complex, but the example of forest school in the Mersey Forest Plan shows that there is a need to fight against the growing alienation of children from the natural world, and increased risk aversion in society.

Thus the issue is one of the most difficult to illustrate with health and care. Indeed, if it can be shown that cultural landscapes contribute to the well-being and public health, bottlenecks remain, related to a security vision that addresses nature as a source of danger, either in terms of health with the fear of harmful plants, animals, or water features, or in terms of safety as outdoor activities are perceived as riskier, especially for children. The demonstration that long-term benefits, including prevention of health risks, climate events, and of major risks such as floods on wider scale, are to be balanced with short-term risk and would therefore need further exploration.

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Cultural landscapes as living and working environment

Facilitating access to cultural landscape, as living and working environment, supports fair and equitable access to a high quality of life and working conditions that match the needs and expectations of interested parties (ISO 37101).

Farmers, landmanagers are providing ecosystem services including scenery, environmental services, or services for recreation activities. One of the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage mission is to facilitate access to those, in particular for people who might otherwise not have the means to access them. Thus, it reinforces its recreational facilities with for example, the renovation of three beach portions on the Atol’ sector dedicated to public enjoyment, and organizes, from spring, several events in new educational environmental center L’îloz’, around the discovery of the river Rhône and associated natural areas, on vegetable growth in the local garden, and on wild food discovery. Cultural Landscape Day organized in Grand Parc Miribel Jonage was also a nice way to address public participation with many game for children, craft workshops, story telling and musical happenings.

Livres à l’eau au Grand Parc Miribel Jonage

In Edessa, establishing green corridors contributes to a positive living and working environment. Participation of local people has been productive throughout the planning and execution of the project, to discuss uses of the three main city channels, one dedicated to art and culture, the second devoted to nature, and third dedicated to history. The master plan uses the old ways and traces (canals, green corridors) of the existing natural landscape with consolidation of the three main routes of the city, and their links with public spaces.

Channel A is dedicated to art and culture. The main objective of the design was to create a journey along the particular gateway that promotes cultural and artistic character of the city. This was achieved by a mixture of traditional installations and creation of modern art by involving local artists to the focal points on the course.

Channel B is devoted to nature. It was meant to create a new linear urban park that celebrates the richness and natural beauty of the area, recreation and education being strengthened along the walkway. This was achieved by preserving the existing natural character of the channel and by replacing existing hard materials (asphalt, cement) with local granite and materials respectful of the environment, to minimize the impact of the city of Edessa.

Channel C is dedicated to history. A bridge was fitted with a series of exhibition items and installations, which displays the history of Edessa (city in water). This path leads to the waterfalls of Edessa, which are key historical monuments. The design reflects the dynamism of water, preserving the existing natural character of the channel and designing flowing lines along the route of the canal or equipment (eg waving metal railings …).

« During consultation phase project many acceptability problems were encountered, particularly from the shops (shops moving, pedestrian areas, parking restrictions, …). Furthermore, the implementation and management of a new sustainable planning model raised doubts and questions as to whether the behaviors were willing to change and have to agree a new set of rules. However, this project demonstrates a growing awareness among civil society, private organizations and public authorities of the value of landscapes, and the ability to mobilize the active participation of stakeholders to assist in the identification and landscapes valuation » (source E-CLIC Challenge Learning Innovation Cooperation).

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Sustainable foodscape

« Food is among the elements most integral to the cultural landscapes of the European Union and its member countries. Through food, the peoples of European countries actively produce and draw substance and meaning from cultural landscapes. This realization is at the heart of recent and still expanding food cultures and movements in Europe and throughout the world. It is also relevant to current interests and projects on the EU’s cultural landscapes, where the role of food traverses the marvelous scenes of heritage-type and officially designated landscapes-such as those of the terroir products-to those of diverse and often similarly compelling non-heritage sites. »  (Karl Zimmerer)

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Support policies to peri-urban agriculture are developing, and can be anchored on major metropolitan natural areas. Grand Parc Miribel Jonage is a peri-urban park whose mission is servicing landscapes, for which the role of farmers is essential. Grand Parc Miribel Jonage had a previous vegetable farming business, which still remains in Vaulx-en-Velin and Décines, with for example the Vartan gardens, that produce organic vegetables and distribute fresh food on 2000 m² of greenhouses and 13,000 sqm of outdoor cultivation. Healthy and tasty products are supplied upon choice directly on the ground, or with a morning pick-up for immediate delivery. Unavailable on-site productions come from the region: summer fruits from Drôme, Bresse chicken, Lamb of Saint Romain, …. Grand Parc Miribel Jonage owns 400 ha of farmlands operated by 16 contracted farmers, plus 100 ha operated directly by GPMJ. Those are mainly cereals. Although farming is limited in GPMJ by legislation from the 1970s, revised in the early 2000s, breed continues, with cows for land maintenance and goats on dry grasslands. GPMJ implemented a label « Les Saveurs du Grand Parc » that aims to encourage producers, distributors, processors and consumers to focus on organic and local products. Origin of the label is historic and rooted. It started with the Woodstower festival, which hosts 17,000 people, and wants to be an eco-festival to give meaning to his action to give meaning to his action and generate stakeholders’ connections. The partnership has resulted in a search of local products, which continued with Grand Parc productions. After a first hemp cultivation for the production of oil, the second product delivered was honey with the installation of hives, and the accompaniment of draft beer with a local cereal production for Dullion Brewery. Then came a cheeses offer with the GAEC of Garotière. Lys’sentielles joined the process in 2013 with herbs. Moulin Marion, last independent miller, fits into the sector in 2014, and 2015 saw the arrival of the labeled organic meat production from the GPMJ breed for lanscapes maintenance. The HERCULES program contributed to the organization of a workshop around this approach to evaluate the balance between supply and demand, and the tools to implement to promote local supply.

“Les saveurs du Grand Parc” productions and Moulin Marion old mill

The charter of the label defines a scope for the products involved, that are divided into seven families:

  • Grain products or derivatives ;
  • Fruit / vegetables or derivatives ;
  • Honey or derivatives ;
  • Flowers and herbs or derivatives;
  • Dairy products ;
  • Meat ;
  • « Welfare » products.


Geographical borders are also defined, so that the headquarters of the farm and packing places should be located within 100 Km of Grand Parc borders.

Large peri-urban parks can also supply timber industry, as is the case of GPMJ, with assistance of the National Forest Organisation in forest management plan, but also the Parilly park, which has a woodworking workshop within the service, and Lacroix-Laval Domain, using also horse for some logging operations, and for other uses, horses being much appreciated by the public.

Forestry in Lyon metropolitan parks

Other good practices were collected in Rhône-Alpes rural area. Between those, Biau Panier association was created in 2005 following strong demand from Trieves residents  for a bio local supply chain. The purpose of this non-profit association, is to offer a wide range of local organic products. The association currently groups nineteen producers to offer a variety of products. Vegetables, pasta, bread, flour, eggs, jams, cheeses, meats, beers, syrups, processed products, cosmetics, … are offered to individuals. The producers are grouped to facilitate access to their products throughout the country. Another advantage for vegetable producers: they gather the customer order: there is no waste. The producers set their prices as convenience but are obliged to charge the same prices on the regional markets. Producing for local delivery and organic agriculture, producers try to sow and plant the largest percentage of local seeds or very close, and breeders favour local breeds adapted to the climate and the region. As for a « drive » of a supermarket, customers choose on the website in a catalogue for the desired Wednesdays products, customers pick up their baskets in one of six collection points, preferably in carpooling. There is no obligation to buy each week, a customer can order only once or every week if he wants to. The customer profile is multiple, young, older, single, couple, working on Grenoble or locally. The location of this association is a « sustainable » Place. Trièves is composed of 28 towns of about 10 000 inhabitants, and is a center of organic agriculture: one-third of farmers are and retraining of farmers working in traditional towards greener practices is increasing. Most new installations of young farmers are organic. The disparate geography has created small plots that leave little room for « conventional » agriculture especially as in some villages like Monestier, where there was no consolidation.

Organic vegetable farm in Trièves

In Lesvos, citizens of Gera founded a non-profit organization to preserve the forests of olive trees in the region, and contribute to social and economic development through the production of olives and agro-tourism. The approach is part of an initial finding of abandonment of olive groves, loss of environmental and cultural value, and lack of competitiveness of the production of olive oil because of geographical features of the area (land sloping, non-irrigated). However, the community has a rich ‘human capital’, based on actors with other activities, and local actors bridged together with other farmers and inhabitants of Gera in an NGO ’tis Allis Syn’ and the social enterprise « MODOUSA ». Their desire is to adopt new management systems, more decentralized and more open to change and innovation, while strongly ntégrant landscape conservation: the aim is to use the features of the landscape, developing uses to ensure the profitability of farms of olive trees (e.g. with innovative protocols to fight against the olive fly) to preserve the aesthetics of the landscape.

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Living together in landscapes

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Living together, interdependence and mutuality entail the development of collective and collaborative lifestyles that produce mutual economic and social benefits in terms of inter and intra-generational equity and social mobility (source ISO 37101).

Landscape has an integrator and social role that can be highlighted in participatory gardens, and associated non-monetary exchanges (sharing services, plants, grains, etc.). Incredible Edible citizen participatory movement born in England, is disseminated today through the whole world, and drives young people to landscape, helping them find in public space the nature some are deprived.

Cultural landscapes may even cross borders, and Walls and Gardens seeks to promote and border history between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain. These lands have indeed a density of fortified cities among the largest in Europe. Today, these architectural elements and past military areas are ideal places for relaxation, recreation, and natural sites of major ecological interest. Sustainable conservation of this specific heritages ensured with exchange of experiences between partners, inviting them to consider the notion of « border » and fortifications, border creation, impact on people, trade flows and evolving role. Indeed, the fortified cities, that marked yesterday the separation between states, are now a reconciling item to gather around the same heritage. Around « Landscape and ecological site management « and » interpretation, cultural development and tourism », the ambition is to contribute to :

  • Reinforcing fortified sites role in protecting natural resources and biodiversity;
  • Visitors awareness and involvement for the site respect and maintenance;
  • Promotion of historical and ecological advantages of fortified sites;
  • Networking experiences around new role and management of fortified sites;
  • Promotion of the fortified city network to emphasize their attractivity;
  • Contribution to international exchange of knowledge.

In Lesvos, citizens of Gera founded a non-profit organization to preserve regional olive trees forests, and contribute to social and economic development through the production of olives and agro-tourism. Facing land abandonment, loss of environmental and cultural value, and lack of competitiveness of the production of olive oil because of land sloping, non-irrigated field, the community has however rich ‘human capital’. Actors bridged together with other farmers and inhabitants in ‘Syn this allois‘ NGO and « MODOUSA » social enterprise, displaying that despite the distrust in ‘expert’ knowledge and ‘officials’, there are opportunities for collective actions that seek to conserve the landscape via productive olive field.

Olive forest
Olive field in Lesvos

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Cultural landscapes and community identity

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Culture and community identity are essential to preserve lifestyles, including intangibles such as practices, know-how, languages, spirituality and customs, while allowing or even encouraging the evolution of heritage and traditions (source ISO DIS 37101).

European Heritage Days were held in september 2014 on the theme « Cultural heritage, natural heritage ». HERCULES was part of this theme with the organization of events in each of the five program areas of study. For example, in Modbury, South West Devon, a trail was organized to reconnect people to the land through a discovery of heritage trees. All other Cultural Landscape Days organized through HERCULES shall be reported in deliverable D8.4.

‘Cultural trees in the landscape’, Modbury, UK, (source Pip Howard)

Kodavere, other SL in Estonia is a part of Sibulatee (Onion Route), which is a set of tourism enterprises situated by Lake Peipsi. The name of it comes from the traditional vegetable gardening of the locals. Growing onions and garlic (also other vegetables) is traditional in Kodavere area, especially on the shores of Lake Peipsi. This is mostly done where grain cultivation is impossible by Russian Old Believers, a distinctive group of people by Lake Peipsi.

Contrasting heritage between Russian old believers’ house and vegetable gardens (left), and Estonian traditional house and orchard (right, photos Geneviève Girod)

In Colmenar Viejo, there are three main festive traditions that date back to the middle ages, and that are anually organised by the municipality in close collaboration with the local community. The first one is the anual pilgrimage to a rural chappel, which is one of the main identity icons for Colmenar Viejo’s inhabitatns (religous or not). The other two are linked to pagan traditions to wellcome the spring session and to remember the wild stock farming past of the village. These three traditions have a very strong relation with the cultural landscapes of the area, and are very important to foster the sense of place and community for the people living in the municipality.

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Heritage valuation through Photography (source Maria Garcia Martin)

Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership brings communities together to create a shared vision for the conservation and management of Sperrins landscape and heritage. It helps around 20 projects, and develop a high quality, integrated, sustainably managed and well-utilised walking trail network, including an audio trail, that enhances the health and well-being of local people and visitors by providing improved access throughout the Sperrins Gateway. These trails enable people to appreciate the distinctive heritage features and character of the Sperrins Gateway landscape through increased access and interpretation and encourage an improvement to health and well-being through outdoor recreation provision.

SAVE Foundation link agrobiodiversity to identity and part of the local culture. Agrobiodiversity is not only an essential part of biodiversity, but also an essential instrument for rural development in marginal areas, especially in areas of special environmental value like traditional Agro Eco Systems (TAES). In those areas, conservation of Agro-Biodiversity is an option for the local people to improve their income and for sustainable landscape management.

‘ENtopia – Our Places in Europe’ was presented during HERCULES 2nd EU level workshop, and is a European project promoted by Europa Nostra to solicit applications and participation from smaller towns and villages across Europe with the aim to define a “Future Vision for Sustainable Settlement” and to implement qualitative norms for good places to live in and enjoy. This project is not an “Award Scheme” but rather an “Incentive Scheme” which seeks to encourage and endorse smaller towns and villages and their local authorities and communities to work towards their sustainable futures through identifying and celebrating their cultural and environmental qualities and assets.

There are many other examples that are figured on the knowledge hub, thus heritage landscape approach appeared to be very consistent with the recognition of cultural and identity services.

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Landscape benefits for health and care

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Health and care both play a crucial role in maintaining and improving physical and mental health in the community and in contributing to its well-being and resilience. Several studies describe the therapeutic benefits of biodiversity on the psyche of the inhabitants, the presence of the plant acting on the psychological well-being and behavior of citizens, with a special ability to restore mental fatigue, reduce stress, and promote Healing in care centers.  Conversely, the proliferation of certain species, animal (pigeon, rat, etc.) or vegetable (eg ragweed) can be a concern, but an answer can be given precisely by maintaining the ecosystem diversity and complexity, ie the high variability of species in a medium being a sign of good health (Humanity and biodiversity symposium acts, « Does our health depend on biodiversity? »).

According to Frederic Segur, the history of Health issue in landscape policies of major French cities was marked by four main stages: from the balance city / nature as a condition for hygiene and health (second half of the 19th century); to the loss of environmental value in the 20th century functional city; then the rediscovery of the linkages between nature and health by the communities in the late 20th century through pesticides issue; and finally a return to recognition of ecosystem functions and services provided by nature, which announces a renewal of well-being values in the city (Humanity and biodiversity symposium acts, workshop D, Annex 1,  » Does our health depend on biodiversity? « ). In this spirit, the Art and Care Garden of Charpennes Geriatric Hospital associates, on 1200 m² in urban area, different traction areas, sensory therapy and art entertainment including gardening for patients suffering from the disease Alzheimer’s or related diseases including age stroke (Jardin Art et Soins, 2013).

Columbia University researchers have found that children who live in the tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma than average. In mental health, trees and green spaces improve the ability of concentration and recovery of mental fatigue, reduced instances of assault and domestic violence, and speeds up recovery time after operations (Schellenbaum Lovasi 2008). Health also stimulates the economy. The annual cost of care is rated at £ 2 billion to the only area of Liverpool, the forest is a long term investment vital for the quality of life. To help reduce the « health gap » between rich and poor, with a particularly strong impact on reducing heart disease and stroke, the Mersey Forest has successfully developed projects focusing on the benefits to health community forest, as for example, the program ‘Natural Choices’ with the National Health Service in Liverpool. The implementation of a mapping of the green network resources can target uses in areas where they are most needed in fighting against health inequalities. In addition, the program supports the development of tree cover near hospitals and health center, and a “Natural Health Service” which is based on:

  • Creating social links through generational activities
  • The promotion of physical activity and sport paths on soft modes,
  • Solicitation of attention by contemplation spaces and inspiration,
  • Intellectual development through education and games,
  • The donation by the organization of voluntary actions (The Mersey Forest Plan, 2014).


There where’nt many project in our selection that linked heritage landscapes to health. However, cultural landscape are good places for physical outdoors activity with benefits to health, especially in more urban areas. The Grand Parc Miribel Jonage organizes many outdoors activities all around the seasons, with the orienteering “frosted trail” in winter, or the contribution to the “Color me rad” in spring.

The Parc de la Cerisaie houses the Villa Gillet, former property of the Lyon silk dyers Gillet family, home to cultural institutions. Besides the vocation of cultural venue devoted to thought and contemporary arts of the villa, the park hosts several play areas as well as weight training equipment. It is a convenient place for orienteering, with an educational project developed within the framework of the agreement between the Ministry of Education and the City of Lyon, and formalized by the Territorial Educators of Physical and Sports Activities Entertainment Service for their involvement in Orienteering. This project aims to develop a number of skills such as knowing how to take the information, reading a plan or map, move and manage his effort, in order to learn decision making for going fast without getting lost. The Cherry Orchard Park brings together on the same surface of ornamental massifs near the Villa Gillet and areas widely available to a more natural management, which contributes to its wealth. On extensively managed area, a renewal of certain areas was made on the basis of native shrubs (hazel, serviceberry, hawthorn, elder, rowan, currants …). Stumps and dead wood are left in place securely, and clearing and differentiated mowing practices can preserve herbaceous strata undergrowth and at tree foot. This helps to give access to more natural landscape and playground for urban children, even though sometimes it’s difficult for gardeners to prevent them from running everywhere!

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Outdoor physical activities, Parc de La Cerisaie, Lyon (left, photo Geneviève Girod) and Soay sheep at the Prefectural Institute for Childhood and Family, Bron Parilly (right, source DEN Lyon Metropolis)

In addition, pets have positive effects on fragile health populations (children, the sick, the elderly) and their presence can be fostered in cultural landscape. Parilly Park offers dwarf Soay race sheeps to the neighbor Prefectural Institute for Childhood and Family, to promote contact with children.

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