The European Landscape Convention
In 2012, Iceland became a member of the European Landscape Convention, an agreement introduced in 2000. The role of the agreement is to “promote landscape protection, management and planning” (http://conventions.coe.int) and to support European cooperation on these matters.
The Convention defines the word “Landscape” as “an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors” (http://conventions.coe.int). The convention emphasises the need for sustainable development built on balance, the consensus of society and the business sector and harmony with the environment. Membership of the convention is the Icelandic government’s declaration of intent to support the cause by implementing “principles, strategies and guidelines that permit the taking of specific measures aimed at the protection, management and planning of landscapes” and a commitment to “the formulation by the competent public authorities of the aspirations of the public with regard to the landscape features of their surroundings.” Furthermore, “Landscape” will be taken into consideration in regional development matters, cultural issues, farming, social issues and economic factors.
The origins of the Convention can be traced to the CEMAT (Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning) in Bonn and up until the first world conference on environmental matters, held in Stockholm in 1970. These events resulted in the first draft of the Convention. The Convention was finally signed in Florence in 2000 and implemented in 2004.
The greatest advancements in landscape analysis methods have been demonstrated by Austria, Australia, the UK, the USA, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Canada, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Germany. The main focus in landscape analysis includes systematic registration and analysis, via visual checklists and proven strategies. Quantitative criteria (both objective and subjective) is used to assess the value of the landscape and the effects on landscape based on landscape characteristics, general condition, history and culture, value to the public, the extent of development and construction, duration, the nature of the affected area and available options.
An important basis for methodology has been developed and Landsvirkjun will use this in research and development on visual aspects. Developing methods suited to Icelandic circumstances is of particular importance.