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.

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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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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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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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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 ».

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).

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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La nature source de bien-être

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Plusieurs études décrivent les vertus thérapeutiques de la biodiversité sur le psychisme des habitants, la présence du végétal agissant sur le bien-être psychologique et le comportement des citadins, avec une capacité particulière à rétablir la fatigue mentale, à réduire le stress, et favoriser la guérison dans les centres de soins. Devant l’inquiétude que peut générer, à l’inverse, la proliferation de certaines espèces, animales (pigeon, rat, etc) ou végétales (ex : ambroisie) une réponse peut justement être apportée par le maintien de la diversité, la complexité d’un écosystème, autrement dit la grande variabilité des espèces dans un milieu, étant un gage de bonne santé (Humanité et biodiversité, actes du colloque “Notre santé depend-elle de la biodiversité ?”, 2015).

Les animaux domestiques ont eux des effets positifs sur la santé des populations fragiles (enfants, malades, personnes âgées) et leur présence peut être encouragée dans les jardins. Le Parc de Parilly met ainsi à disposition des moutons nains de race Soay auprès de l’Institut départemental de l’enfance et de la famille (IDEF) voisin, pour favoriser le contact avec les enfants.

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Le mouton Soay à l’Institut départemental de l’enfance et de la famille de Parilly – photo: Direction Espaces Naturels, Parc de Parilly

D’après Frédéric Segur, l’histoire de la question de la santé dans les politiques nature et biodiversité des grandes villes françaises a été jalonnée par quatre principaux temps passant de l’équilibre ville/nature comme condition d’hygiène et de santé  (seconde moitié du 19e siècle), à une perte de valeur de la ville fonctionnelle du 20e siècle pour les sujets d’environnement, puis à la redécouverte des enjeux qui relient nature et santé par les collectivités à la fin du 20e siècle à travers la question des pesticides, et enfin un retour vers la reconnaissance des  fonctions  et  services  écosystémiques  rendus  par la  nature, qui annonce un renouvellement des valeurs du bien vivre en ville (Humanité et biodiversité, actes du colloque “Notre santé depend-elle de la biodiversité ?”, 2015, atelier D, annexe 1).

Des chercheurs de l’Université de Columbia ont constaté que les enfants qui vivent dans les rues bordées d’arbres ont des taux d’asthme inférieurs à la moyenne. En matière de santé mentale, les arbres et espaces verts améliorent la capacité de concentration et de récupération de la fatigue mentale, réduisent les occurrences d’agression et la violence domestique, et accélèrent le temps de récupération à la suite d’opérations (Schellenbaum Lovasi, 2008). La santé stimule également l’économie. Le coût annuel des soins s’évaluant à 2 milliards de livres pour la seule Région de Liverpool, la forêt représente un investissement vital à long terme pour la qualité de vie. Afin d’aider à réduire la « fracture sanitaire » entre riches et pauvres, avec un impact particulièrement fort sur la réduction des maladies cardiaques et accidents vasculaires cérébraux, la forêt de Mersey a développé avec succès des projets mettant l’accent sur les avantages pour la santé des forêts communautaires, comme par exemple, le programme ‘Natural Choices’ avec le Service national de santé de Liverpool. La mise en place d’une cartographie des ressources de la trame verte permet de cibler les usages dans les espaces où ils sont le plus nécessaires pour lutter contre les inégalités de santé. Par ailleurs, le programme supporte le développement du couvert arboré à proximité des hôpitaux et centres de soin, et un ‘Service de Santé Naturelle’ qui s’appuie sur :

  • La création de lien social à travers des activités transgénérationnelles,
  • La promotion des activités physiques et sportives sur cheminements modes doux,
  • La sollicitation de l’attention par des espaces de contemplation et d’inspiration,
  • Le développement intellectuel par l’éducation et les jeux,
  • Le don par l’organisation d’actions de volontariat (The Mersey Forest Plan, 2014).


Dans le même esprit, le Jardin de Soin de l’hôpital gériatrique des Charpennes associe, sur 1 200 m² en milieu urbain, différents espaces de motricité, de sensorialité et d‘animations en art thérapie intégrant le jardinage pour des patients souffrant de la maladie d‘Alzheimer ou de pathologies liées à l‘âge notamment les accidents vasculaires cérébraux (Jardin Art et Soins, 2013).

La pratique d’activités physiques en extérieur est également bénéfique pour la santé. Le parc de la Cerisaie, situé dans le 4e arrondissement de Lyon sur la Croix-Rousse, abrite la Villa Gillet, ancienne propriété de la famille des teinturiers sur soie Gillet, qui héberge des institutions culturelles. Outre la vocation de lieu culturel consacré à la pensée et aux arts contemporains de la villa, le parc accueille plusieurs aires de jeu ainsi que des équipements de musculation. C’est un lieu de pratique de parcours d’orientation, avec un projet pédagogique élaboré dans le cadre de la convention qui lie l’Education Nationale et la Ville de Lyon, et formalisé par les Educateurs Territoriaux des Activités Physiques et Sportives (ETAPS) du Service Animation Sportive pour leur intervention en Course d’Orientation (C.O.). Ce projet vise à développer un certain nombre de compétences telles que savoir prendre les informations, lire un plan ou une carte (ressources bio-informationnelles), se déplacer et géréer son effort (ressources bio-énergétiques), de façon à apprendre à faire les bons choix d’action pour ne pas se perdre et aller vite.

Activités physiques et scolaires au Parc de la Cerisaie

En gestion écologique et entretenu sans produits phytosanitaires, le parc de la Cerisaie regroupe sur une même surface des massifs d’ornement au voisinage de la villa Gillet, ainsi que des zones très largement offertes à une gestion plus naturelle, ce qui contribue à sa richesse. Sur la zone gérée extensivement, un renouvellement de certains espaces a été effectué sur la base d’arbustes indigènes (noisetiers, amélanchiers, aubépines, sureaux, sorbiers, groseilliers…). Des souches et bois mort sont laissés en place de façon sécurisée, et les pratiques de débroussaillage et tonte différenciée permettent de préserver les strates herbacées en sous-bois et pied d’arbre.

Cet article est extrait d’une présentation intitulé « Recoupler les composantes socio-culturelles et écologiques des espaces naturels urbains » destinée au colloque Services Eco-systémiques : apport et pertinence dans les milieux urbains, dont la présentation est disponible ici.