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


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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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.
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).


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).

Saint Priest_photo1
Saint-Priest pocket gardens (Source : Saint Priest city)

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Results on landscape perception french survey

Participant number : 258

Start date : 14th of April, 2014

End date : 17th of May, 2014

This survey was to understand the initial stakeholders perceptions on landscape towards a conclusion of the needs and expectations on current landscape management practice. It was created on and shared on social networks. First questions intended to stakeholders typology, their interactions with landscape, and a first approach to the threats identified. The last, open, question, was to gather the needs, expectations and suggestions related to landscape issues.


Nuage de mots_verbes actions (eng)_vfinalOn this last interrogation, many of the participants suggest new types of management are needed for and better understanding of landscapes in city and town planning. To translate this we have transcribed terminology in a wordcloud where the most quoted words appear larger. In analysing several proposals within a social representation study framework (Abric, 2003),
Nuage de mots_mots sujet(eng)_vfinalparticipants seem to give more importance to respecting and preserving the existing as natural landscapes elements, features and of course historical structure heritage – Conservation. A lot of people relate to living standards, quality of life and wellbeing, particularly in the city, with a desire towards harmonisation between green space and concrete. The urban question is a major concern in our survey, due to the majority of participants from city.
Nuage de mots_mots_negatifs(eng)_vfinalAgriculture presents an important issue with requests to develop local markets particularly in suburban areas. « Awareness » and « dialogue » often appear with a desire to invest in planning towards creating a stronger identity; a cultural value to preserve and maintain. The public want to be better informed. Professionals want to be more on line with politicians and land managers. The creation of a tool for professionals and public to be better and more easily informed about current and future planning aims to respond to those wishes. All those points are detailled below through sustainable landscape management issues.


Governance appears as a critical factor for landscape management. Enforced support for developers is requested by landscape professionals with consideration to laws, regulations and existing planing in project management. The economy must be a lever to combine social and environmental economics. Recommendations should be taken at different political levels. Local stakeholders are in demand of an information system on local projects in progress.

Climate issues and natural risks

Climate change is perceived negatively and is recognized to have more frequent repercussions. Adjustment of management methods according to climate change and natural risks is expected.

Energy and green house gas

Transition to green and renewable energy is supposed to be more economically viable and more environmentally friendly. Fight against of air pollutants emissions is suggested, with compensation (tree planting,…) from « polluters ».

Biodiversity and resources

Landscape is seen as a resource for biodiversity, essential to insure ecosystem functions and natural regulation. People sigh after lost mosaïc landscapes, but agree landscape

evolve and are dynamics. Habitat connection is thought to be essential to ecological functions and to its preservation is plebiscited, whether remarkable or ordinary. Wetland developement and preservation are particularly mentioned for maintenance of biodiversity

Strong second issue is related to food resource with intensive agriculture perceived as an overuse of the environment. People mainly living in the city want short food circuits (AMAP) and agriculture around cities, togather with shared gardens.


Pollution is mentioned through noise, aesthetic of billboard and chemicals for plant protection. Pesticide free practices are expected to « get out of the spiral“.

Urbanization and nature in the city

Urbanization is seen as a major threats with a lack of harmonization between natural areas and buildings. « Destruction, eradication, transformations, lack of consistency“ are pejorative words related to urbanization. Urban density is one of the solution proposed.

Transport and infrastructures

People are waiting for new modes of transportation in and around cities with the use of soft mobility. Large transport infrastructure (airport, TGV) and negatively perceived as a source of damage to natural environments.

Social and heritage issues

Attachment to natural, cultural heritage and local territory is strong. Identity is linked to the notion of territory. Communication, information, awareness about landscape, biodiversity, are much needed as of major interest in our society. Landscape in itself is a place of leisure, of rich history and traditional knowledge and should be considered of general interest.

Human well-being

Landscape is seen as a source of well-being and as a welcoming, pleasant, aesthetic and quality place. It appeals to sensitivity and evokes a source of calm, beneficial leisure (walk) and relaxation.

word importance

 The results are available in the file below :


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.

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