Landscape for innovation and creativity

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Innovation, creativity and research foster the development of new forms of cooperation. Cultural landscapes are a place for such exchanges, through gardening activities, but also for artistic representations. Outdoor activities facilitate discoveries and provide access for everybody to all kinds of wonders.

Thus, the outdoor Art Museum in Pedvale, Latvia was opened by sculptor Ojars Arvids Feldbergs in 1991 and is now a state historical monument. Its 100 hectares covered by cultivated fields, flower meadows, hills, rivers and forests are an ideal place for creative professionals, – sculptors, painters, writers, artists – to express themselves freely, and they are encouraged to take their inspiration from nature using local materials. The permanent collection includes more than 150 works of art that were created during the symposia and workshops, an exhibition of Ojars Feldbergs and temporary exhibitions of local and foreign artists, with a new theme every year.

In Nantes urban landscape, the art installations of illustrator Claude Ponti attracted nearly 1 million visitors, with fantastic creatures straight out of the imagination of the artist, who invites the public to play with all the works and clink the Steeples-Pots, bubbled with Deputy flower, to talk to Simone-the-voice-of-the-station and finish relaxation among the thousand Cousspoussins … for the delight of children and « big kids ».

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The vagabond mirante Appouare, Jardin des Plantes, Nantes

But the artist can also appeal to other senses than visual. Gilles Malatray « Inviting structures, institutions and audiences to explore new soundscapes around the city and the countryside, considering these environments as real aesthetic ear spaces, is not a simple artistic gesture. To address and tell new territories listening is sharing living spaces by ear, develop true and sincere human relations, glimpse of ecological, social, heritage approaches… It emphasizes the variety of approaches, postures, ways, to hear and be heard collectively ». His Hearing Points and soundscapes are shared valuation levers to spaces as beautiful as fragile, « the establishment of a set of tracks – tools available to the inhabitants, the artist, researcher, teacher, politics, developer (…) at the cross roads of listening, where the most uncertain things, the more fluid, the more exciting can emerge. « (Gilles Malatray, Desartsonnants, 2016).

Colmenar Viejo uses both together Visual and Sound Landscapes initiative. School students from the municipality took part in a voluntary activity where they learnt how to take landscape photos and record landscape sounds. They learnt a new way to look at the landscape and how to express their relation with the landscape though art. They made an exihbition of the photos and sounds recorded, where their parents realised the importance of landscape to contribute to the personal development of their children.

Innovation, creativity and research foster also the elaboration of cutting-edge designs, while contributing to excessive risk aversion and giving due consideration to ethical implications and outcomes. Public consultation in the Mersey Forest Plan includes innovative geospatial mapping methodology that has provided an evidence base upon which to develop and implement local policy. The work has identified key areas for increasing woodland landscape connectivity that can assist not only in helping to reduce habitat fragmentation, but also provide a range of ecosystem services.

On its side, ‘One hut full’ explores the history of the Dartmoor agriculture through a hike, and a multi-sensory experience, designed to provide thought, inspiration, and innovation for the future of a sector that, outside the protected national park, is threatened by increasing urbanization. It’s an experiential project set up to teach visitors about local practices, and to create new and more sustainable supply chains for locally adapted landscape products, with workshops running to connect different landscape members and to help them find new uses and niches for their products.  The program supports innovative approaches that promote bio-based materials, and new sustainable technologies adopted by local entrepreneurs, as for example:

  • Solidwool is a material made from wool and bio-resin and can be used in much the same way as plastic. The chair ‘Hembury’ created by its founders, Justin and Hanna Floyd already had some success and, Solidwool is moving today to manufacture glasses.
  • With traditional materials whose use is diverted, Bellacouche, in turn, has created an award-winning basket, soft biodégragrable, from pure wool. The products of its creator are deeply influenced by the traditions of his Norwegian heritage.
  • Twool is a garden twine made from sheep wool Whiteface Dartmoor. All the wool manufacturing process, the washing with winding, takes place in the UK, giving it a lower carbon footprint than imported jute (One Full Hut, 2016).

Cultural landscapes provide a space for experimentation for cultivated biodiversity and innovation towards resilience. By helping to conserve genetic diversity, the SAVE Foundation is the umbrella organization for the Safeguard for Agricultural Varieties in Europe. Its mission is to preserve and promote cultural genetic diversity. A particular focus is on survival of endangered breeds of livestock and crop species. Maintaining local varieties of fruit and vegetables, far from standardized market production, is a good practice example of innovative issue to facilitate adaptation to local soil and climate, and maintain attractiveness for micro-fauna, and consists in a real challenge.

Thus, the technology park at Porte des Alpes, Lyon Metropolis, and the company Tarvel partnered with the Golden Tulip kitchens to create a vegetable garden helping to conserve old varieties from Lyon area. The seeds that are grown there are, essentially, those of nearly extinct or endangered local fruits and vegetables, treasured by Lyon Resource Centre of Applied Botany (CRBA), continuing the program « Fruits, vegetables and flowers of the Lyon basin: a cultural and biological heritage to know and keep » hired by the CNRS laboratory « Resources terroir – Cultures, customs, society ». Cultivation of local vegetable varieties conserved by CRBA is also conducted on the Parilly park for tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, basil … The CRBA, which also maintains representative horticultural varieties of Lyon’s domestic biodiversity and manages database Horti-Lyon, is located on the Lacroix-Laval Domain, who farms part of heritage vegetables in the castle garden, as well as many fruit. A Franco-Russian cooperation is now engaged and supported by the Foundation De Natura to support the Vavilov Institute, the oldest seed bank in the world which probably keeps some future food for humanity in its mission to enrich the cultivated plant diversity.

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Local crop cultivation, Parc Technologique, Saint Priest (source DLPB Lyon Metropole)

Thus, preservation of plant horticultural heritage, connected with a story, could provide right balance between standardized produced gardens with low biodiversity and wild gardens whose public acceptance is still fragile. Search for innovative designs to marry indigenous and cultivated plants, and valuation of gardeners work, at the crossing of landscape and environment skills, can meet stakeholders’ perception, sensation and emotion .

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Education through cultural landscapes

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Cultural landscapes are recognized to improve long-term educational outcomes (Great London Authority, 2003) at several levels: connection to landscape allows hamonious cognitive development, but landscape is also at the center of educational practices.

In the Mersey Forest, forest school allows children to play in the natural environment, to acquire basic practical skills, and learn about the environment. The forest school concept is imported from Scandinavia and can be adapted to all age groups. In Denmark, it began as a good teaching practice using the external environment, giving children the freedom to play and discover nature. The concept has arrived in the UK in 1993, when a group of British teachers returned from Denmark with an enthusiasm for this new educational approach. Since 2009, project participants have worked with other schools or centers of education for adapting websites for school sessions in the forest, and are able to build accredited training projects, and coordinating practitioners. In their school setting, children can participate in two-hours weekly sessions over a minimum of six weeks. The sessions, which include activities such as building huts, cooking over a campfire, the artistic use of natural materials, help to fight against the growing alienation of children from the natural world, resulting from freedom wandering greatly reduced and increased risk aversion in society. Classes are taught outdoors in a wooded area, or within the walls of the school to help children build confidence and improve their team behavior. The Mersey Forest program helps schools and other organizations to access, create and adapt woodlands to their academic sessions in forest areas, having already made the process more than half of Merseyside schools and the North Cheshire, and helps teachers and practitioners to acquire the necessary teaching qualifications (the Mersey Forest Plan, 2014).

An important part of another program, Urbanbees, around discovery of wild bees, is reserved for education and training. School interventions, exhibitions, nature walks, lectures, nest box building workshops and professional training courses were organized to introduce wild bees to a wide audience: children, citizens, elected officials and professionals (green areas and farmers). Under the Urbanbees program, school-based interventions are programmed cycles. Different actions are proposed for students and children in Lyon metropolis. The program also offers a collection of resources for teachers (Urbanbees, 2014, teaching files and games).

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Urbanbess Life program, Lyon (left, source Geneviève Girod), and Kodavere uavits (right, photo Krista Karro)

Landscapes offer a fecund imagery in language learning. In Vooremaa Kodavere study landscape, heritage was celebrated on Cultural Landscape Day with the publication of Kodavere dialect study book: “Kodavere Uavits” is an ABC book of the local dialect was published for children in 2015. Much of the vocabulary in the book is landscape related, featuring both object and traditions/practices.

Through the Dartmoor Vision, a multi-agency, stakeholder-driven process is developing and achieving a vision of the Dartmoor landscape in the year 2030. To achieve a vision reliant on the continuation of traditional stone working, farming, and upland practices, the Dartmoor Vision collaborates with local and regional educational facilities, and farmers, to sustain through education and practice, the functioning of the landscape. In Romania, Pogany Havas is an association of local governments, NGOs, and businesses which supports traditional agriculture through training programs and study tours for farmers, as well as involving young people in the Life-School Program, which is an opportunity to learn new skills, get involved in the local community and environmental protection projects, and take part in study tours abroad.

The Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, other HERCULES study landscape, has built a new educational environmental center L’îloz’, that organizes from spring several events around the discovery of the river Rhône and associated natural areas, on vegetable growth in the local garden, and on wild food discovery.

All these examples are elements to illustrate how the link between landscapes and education system helps strengthen the attractiveness of the area by developing heritage, social cohesion through inter-generational exchanges, well-being by the practice of educational outdoor activities, learning about the responsible use of resources and environmental protection, and resilience in the transmission of knowledge to future generations.

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Towards landscape governance

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From survey performed through HERCULES WP8 initiating D8.1 Stakeholders strategy, we can tell that governance is highly valued and a major expectation from stakeholders.

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Importance of governance and words weight through landscape heritage sustainable issues – Source: Landscape perception survey results, D8.1

The Mersey Forest is working with partners in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands to share approaches and develop best practices on a European project called Green Infrastructure for Tomorrow – Together! (GIF-T) that aims to develop a ‘bottom-up’ approach for sustainable land management. For the Mersey Forest Plan, the public consultation took place over an extended timescale, and involved asking the public how they felt about trees and woodlands in Merseyside, where they would like to see more trees planted, and locations where woodlands could be better managed. The campaign included both traditional marketing methods and innovative interactive mapping too. The information gathered provided a factual basis on which to develop and implement local policy. The work has identified key areas to increase connectivity wooded landscape to help not only reduce habitat fragmentation, but also to provide a range of ecosystem services.

In Edessa, another project is a development of three riverside walkways that ‘reintroduce history, culture, and nature, and connect them to the local urban context’. When establishing green corridors in Edessa, the participation of local people has been productive throughout the planning process and execution of the project: green frame of the proposal was presented to citizens and local authorities public and private sectors, with discussions regarding advantages and disadvantages of each option. In Italy, the Conca Project includes participatory watershed planning with a range of stakeholders from local authorities, technical consultants and community members, collaboratively developing a consensual spatial plan for the conca river valley.

Natura2000 award winning 3watEr project is also a good example for reconciling interests/perceptions. The 3Water project is based in the Vijvercomplex van Midden Limburg, in the north-east of Belgium: a Natura 2000 site that aims to maintain a viable environment for nature, business and tourism. The ‘3E’ approach was key to reconciling different goals and interests. All the partners pledged to respect a balance between Economy, Ecology and Education, under Natura 2000 guidelines. The project focused on preserving local species such as the bittern (a member of the heron family) and the tree frog, through renovating ponds and wetlands, building new reed islands for the bittern and restoring traditional wet and dry heather. The results are impressive. The number of breeding pairs of bitterns has more than doubled, and the population of tree frogs is estimated to be the largest in the Benelux countries.

Another good examples that was presented on HERCULES EU level workshop are the land consolidation schemes which have been used in the Netherlands to develop landscape stewardship. After some tensions in the 70’s, the current success from the process relies on the fact that it is built on local and bottom-up initiatives which work on a participatory basis. Support from the local government comes after that action has been taken by several land managers. It is clear that land consolidation is a powerful tool for problematic regions, however stakeholder involvement is essential from the erly stage and that force of law should be avoided.

Public participation is a widely discussed topic in landscape research programs, and still a challenge to balance the need to establish modes of governance and the resistance to change associated to some projects (Pautard, 2010, VAD communication). But beyond landscape planning, there is an identified need for a « permanent dialogue », not related to the project (PDD2 Roundtable, 2015: Landscape and Sustainable Development, 2015), on the basis of mobilization « promoting a dialogue setting individual expectations, collective (and desired) intentions, and possible developments of the territory » (Y. Lazzeri, 2015 Fig . 4).

 

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Types of assistance and dominant modes of participation (information to co-design) – Source: Lazzeri et al.

This trend is now illustrated in the case of local urban micro-projects such as community gardens, or by the example of Saint Priest pocket gardens. These pocket gardens are participatory projects of beautification on public spaces originally « abandoned » and maintained by volunteer residents who plant flowers, shrubs, etc. Meeting the demand of the inhabitants of natural areas, the city of Saint-Priest has implemented these small public spaces (foot tree, street corners, etc.) upon which residents take ownership to flourish and plant to their liking. « As an urban beautification program, pocket gardens are also an opportunity to create links between the inhabitants and the town hall, and get greater respect for public space by the inhabitants. » In November 2011, there were 14 in operation pocket gardens and 12 project in different areas of the city: Tree foot house fronts, building feet, curbs, and other areas of several meters square. The approach has to involve neighborhood councils, the Association Passe-garden, and conventions and agreements have been signed with the various owners / users / site managers. Ownership of the process by the inhabitants relied on twenty people mobilized over 200 neighborhood councils guests, with still a sustainable operation today. The project benefited to residents-gardeners who were trained by practicionners from Green space service to the neighborhood that got living conditions improvement, to technicians with building relationships with residents, and to elected officials who take advantage of the improving the image of the city. This project is inspired, among others, of the Vancouver « Green Street » initiative, from which the city practitionners took the concept. The objective is the appropriation of this public space by residents, between residents, and one of the keys to success is participation of the city technicians, with the enthusiasm of the elected representatives (DREAL Rhône-Alpes, 2012).

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Saint-Priest pocket gardens (Source : Saint Priest city)

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HERCULES : Sustainable futures for Europe’s HERitage in CULtural landscapES/ Tools for understanding, managing, and protecting landscape functions and values

HERCULES project ‘Sustainable futures for Europe’s HERitage in CULtural landscapES

Ce projet a pour objectif de mieux comprendre les caractéristiques, les modèles spatiaux et la dynamique des paysages culturels de l’Europe dans afin de développer des outils de protection, gestion et planification durable du paysage.

Le projet s’inscrit dans un contexte où avec la montée en puissance des préoccupations environnementales, le paysage est devenu un enjeu social notable en Europe. En effet, au delà des approches de la biodiversité développées via l’écologie du paysage, les interactions entre paysage et développement durable sont très peu abordées (source Daniel Terrasson, Paysage et développement durable). Ainsi, tout en conservant une préoccupation forte autour des enjeux liés à la biodiversité, le projet s’ouvre à l’intégration des valeurs du paysage comme cadre de vie quotidien, support du patrimoine et de qualités esthétiques et récréatives, ainsi que comme une source de services écosystémiques fournis à la société.

Les paysages culturels subissent cependant des transformations rapides et critiques dans toute l’Europe, d’une part en raison d’une évolution de l’utilisation, de l’abandon des terres, et de l’exode rural, d’autre part via l’intensification de l’urbanisation. Jusqu’à présent, des nombreuses difficultés ont entravé la conception de réponses efficaces pour sauvegarder les valeurs des paysages culturels.

European cultural landscapes are valued as everyday living environment, countryside, heritage, scenery with aesthetic and recreational qualities and unique biodiversity, and as a source of ecosystem services that they provide to society. Cultural landscapes, however, are undergoing rapid and fundamental transformations across Europe, mainly as a result of an on-going polarization of land use, with abandonment and rural exodus on the one hand, and intensification and (peri-) urbanisation on the other. So far, substantial challenges have inhibited the design of effective responses to safeguard cultural landscape values.

HERCULES seeks to better understand the characteristics, spatial patterns, and dynamics in Europe’s cultural landscapes in order to develop tools to help protect, manage, and plan for sustainable landscapes.

LogoEuropeThis research project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement number 603447, HERCULES, within the RTD activities of the Environment Thematic Priority.

More information on http://www.hercules-landscapes.eu/